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How Smoking Affects Your Sinuses 1

How Smoking Affects Your Sinuses

To grasp how smoking affects your sinuses, you need to understand how the nose and sinuses work to protect your health.

The nasal passages defend you from harmful germs in the environment. They help with breathing by carrying oxygen through them down into the lungs. 

The membranes of your nose and sinuses produce a protective layer (mucus) at all times to guard the rest of your respiratory system.

The lining inside the nose and sinuses is precisely like that in the lungs. They contain tiny hair-like structures called “cilia.” 

When healthy, cilia continually sweep out airborne particles that you inhaled, including bacteria, viruses, mucus, and other foreign microscopic substances. In scientific terminology, this process is called “nasal mucociliary clearance (MCC).”

According to a 2018 study, “MCC is the primary defense system that the human airways and lungs have against harmful inhaled particles. Any dysfunction in this defense system increases inflammatory events, and the respiratory system becomes prone to infections and obstructive airway diseases.”

Smoking impairs and damages the cilia over time, putting the smoker at risk of chronic infections of the lungs and sinuses, which can even result in high mortality.

The nose and sinuses carry out the task of producing about 1.5 quarts of mucus every day. The specific goal is for it all to pass through to the back of your throat, where you swallow it. 

When cilia are damaged by smoking, it can lead to a mucus blockage in the back of your throat, causing bacteria to build up in the sinuses, leading to infection. 

According to this study, the evidence is clear, “Cigarette smoke induces a physiologic nasal response including increased nasal airway resistance, nasal irritation, nasal congestion, and rhinorrhea.” 

How Smoking Affects Your Sinuses

How Smoking Affects Your Sinuses

Smoking does not just harm the smoker’s sinuses but also the sinuses of innocent bystanders breathing in second-hand smoke (SHS), such as children, babies, the elderly, and everyone in between.

Studies were conducted to determine if SHS causes chronic sinusitis. The results showed that SHS exposure is associated with the development of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). 

The study stated, “exposure to SHS at home, work, public places (at least 10 times/month) or private places during the past 5 years was associated with an increased risk of CRS.”

Doctors who specialize in treating chronic sinusitis are urged to investigate if the patient comes in contact with second-hand smoke in their daily lives. Avoiding SHS is a priority in treating recurrent and continual sinus problems.

Related Article: Cigarette Smoke: The Ignored Pandemic

Second-Hand Cigarette Smoke Tortures Children Worldwide

Nasal allergies (allergic rhinitis) are among the most common allergic diseases impacting children. 

According to a new 2022 study, up to 40% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke (or passive smoke exposure).

The researchers found clear evidence that when children inhale cigarette smoke, it creates dysbiosis (an imbalance) in particular bacteria. The smoke suppresses specific immune cells (Th1 and Th17), causing bacteria overgrowth that worsens nasal allergies.

Cigarette Smoke Increases The Risk Of Nasal Cancer

Smoking is linked to an increased risk of nasal cancer, “with a doubling of risk among heavy or long-term smokers and a reduction in risk among long-term quitters.” 

And if you are a non-smoker, your risk of nasal cancer is also elevated if you are around a smoker daily.

Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke is related to a significant risk of getting sinus cancer.

The Bottom Line

Tobacco smoke reduces the cilia amount in your sinuses, and at the same time, it increases mucus production.

In other words, you have less of the tiny hair-like structures to sweep out the extra mucus the smoke created. This process begins something similar to backed-up sewage. And we all know how foul that smell is. It is a double whammy on your sinuses, which will ultimately result in severe and chronic sinus infections.

Exposure to cigarette smoke in any manner, shape, or form significantly increases your risk of chronic sinus diseases and cancer.