About secondhand smoke

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. It is dangerous to both smokers and nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, including 70 that can cause cancer.

  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for lung cancer, heart disease, and other respiratory illnesses.
  • Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 
  • Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. 
  • If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health and the health of those around you is to quit. 
  • There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, including counseling, medication, and support groups.
  • If you don’t smoke, it’s important to avoid secondhand smoke. You can do this by not spending time around smokers, and by asking people not to smoke around you. You can also create smoke-free environments in your home and workplace.
  • Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard. By avoiding it, you can protect yourself and those around you from its harmful effects.



What are the symptoms for secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is one of the most dangerous elements of substance that enters non-smokers. It destroys your lungs and slowly makes you feel vulnerable to diseases like fever, headache, strokes, and other things. 

Secondhand smoke is a blend of smoke from a cigarette's flaming burns and the smoke breathed out by smokers. Secondhand smoke contains about 7,000 compounds, hundreds of which are harmful and perhaps 70 of which can cause cancer.

Symptoms:

  • In newborns and early children, secondhand smoke causes a variety of health concerns, including infections of the ears, symptoms of the lungs (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath), bronchitis, and Pneumonia are examples of acute lower respiratory illnesses.
  • Chemicals in secondhand smoking appear to interfere with the brain's ability to regulate infants' breathing. 
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) babies have higher nicotine concentrations in their lungs and higher cotinine levels than babies who die from other causes.
  • In persons who do not smoke, secondhand smoke causes more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths.
  • Breathing secondhand smoke has immediate negative effects on the heart and blood vessels in persons who do not smoke. In the United States, secondhand smoking causes roughly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in persons who do not smoke.



What are the causes for secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is inhaled through sidestream or mainstream smoke. Sidestream smoke is produced when tobacco items, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, are burned. A person who is currently smoking in the vicinity exhaled mainstream smoke. Nonsmokers are affected by both sources because they discharge toxic chemicals into the air.

Causes:

  • In newborns and children, secondhand smoke causes a variety of health concerns, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, lung infections, ear infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • In the United States, secondhand smoking causes roughly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year among persons who do not smoke. 
  • People who do not smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of heart disease by 25-30%.
  • Every year, more than 1,000 babies die as a result of smoking during pregnancy. 
  • Coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer are just a few of the health problems induced by secondhand smoke in adults.
  • Secondhand smoke has an immediate negative impact on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work have a 20–30 percent increased risk of lung cancer.
  • Even a small amount of secondhand smoke can harm cells in ways that start the cancer process.



What are the treatments for secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke inhalation can be prevented or controlled.

If you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, you can lower your risk by:

  • Finding a smoke-free location and moving away from the smoker.
  • Ensure that visitors to your home are aware that they are not permitted to smoke inside.
  • Allowing passengers to smoke in your vehicle, even if the window is open.
  • Specific symptoms or diseases induced by secondhand smoke exposure may be treated by your healthcare practitioner. For example, you may require blood pressure drugs or inhalers to treat asthma or copd.
  • Secondhand smoke can harm your heart and lungs if you are exposed to it frequently. Avoiding secondhand smoke is the greatest way to stay healthy. Many cities and states have now made it illegal to smoke in public areas. These regulations reduce your chance of secondhand smoking exposure, but they do not eliminate it.
  • In 2019, about 7 million middle and high school students in the United States (around 25%) reported breathing secondhand smoke in their homes, with just over 6 million (roughly 23%) reporting breathing secondhand smoke in vehicles.
  • Non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic white middle and high school students in the United States reported being exposed to secondhand smoke at a higher rate than Hispanic/Latinx middle and high school students or students of other races in 2019.



What are the risk factors for secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke can harm your heart and lungs if you are exposed to it frequently. Avoiding secondhand smoke is the greatest way to stay healthy. Many cities and states have now made it illegal to smoke in public areas. These regulations reduce your chance of secondhand smoking exposure, but they do not eliminate it.

Risk factors:

  • Secondhand smoke causes damage in as little as five minutes, according to studies.
  • After five minutes, the arteries become less flexible, similar to how they do when someone smokes a cigarette.
  • Blood begins to clot after 20-30 minutes, and fat deposits in blood vessels raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • After two hours, an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) may occur, potentially leading to a heart attack or other serious cardiac issues.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States estimates that living with a smoker increases the risk of lung cancer by 20% to 30%. 
  • Secondhand smoke exposure may also increase the risk of other cancers by at least 30%, according to research. 
  • Cervical cancer, kidney cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, rectal cancer, and brain tumors are only a few of them.
  • Other health issues caused by secondhand smoke include asthma and heart disease.



Is there a cure/medications for secondhand smoke?

The majority of persons who inhale secondhand smoke do not have their exposure checked. If you routinely inhale secondhand smoke your doctor may do a nicotine test on your saliva (spit), urine, or blood.

Medication:

  • Your healthcare professional may also do a pulmonary function test to assess the extent of the damage. Pulmonary function tests can detect illnesses like asthma that are linked to secondhand smoke hazards.
  • It is possible to quantify secondhand smoke exposure. This is accomplished by detecting compounds contained in cigarette smoke, such as nicotine, in the indoor air. 
  • You can also test your personal amount of exposure with your healthcare practitioner. The amount of cotinine in your blood, saliva, or urine is measured.
  • Beta-blockers: These drugs can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Statins: These drugs can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
  • ACE inhibitors: These drugs can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing strokes or heart attacks.
  • Antioxidants: These drugs can help to protect cells from damage caused by secondhand smoke.
  • If you are exposed to secondhand smoke, talk to your doctor about whether any of these medications may be right for you.



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