As the lockdown continues due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, smoking cannabis has become a viable option for those who need to relax and lower stress. Nevertheless, new studies have shown that patients suffering from lung disease and similars like COVID-19, could develop worse symptoms. They could develop serious complications by smoking cannabis in an uncontrolled way.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, the use of medical cannabis has been an option to combat insomnia or anxiety, as well as mitigate the pain that plagues those with chronic conditions.
Whether you smoke cannabis frequently or occasionally, health experts have drawn attention to the fact that if you are using cannabis to ease anxiety, it’s time to think twice about doing so, as it increases the risk of serious complications from COVID-19. So have said organizations such as the American Lung Association.
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Patients with lung diseases that smoke cannabis are at risk
“When treating a lung disease, the reality is that all patients who smoke either cannabis or cigarettes are at risk of having a more serious form of COVID-19. They are also at risk if they contract other viruses, such as influenza, a common cold, or any type of respiratory tract infection,” said pulmonologist Edgardo Cartagena.
According to the specialist, who is the medical director of the Mennonite Caguas Hospital, the respiratory system has defense mechanisms to clean and protect itself, which are impaired by inhaling substances.
“The bronchi and lungs are the only internal organs that are in close contact with the environment. There are some protection systems that have to do with cells and chemical substances, and with a phlegm that is normal, that is protective. All that is lost when using inhaled substances and that makes the bronchus more susceptible, both to infection and to getting worse once the infection is acquired,” explained Cartagena.
On the contrary, he pointed out, in the case of those who do not smoke or have any habit that damages the respiratory system’s protection means, their defense mechanisms will be 100% functional when exposed to COVID-19 or any other infection. These persons will be able to defend themselves better, and perhaps getting milder symptoms and a less complicated evolution of the disease.
Recently, it was reported that medical cannabis was gaining ground in the midst of the corona crisis, as clinics have reported increased sales and consumption of edible products that do not compromise the respiratory system. As of December 2019, Puerto Rico had 118,528 patients certified for medical cannabis treatment.
What are the options for those who can’t stop their cannabis treatments
For those patients who use smoked or inhaled medical cannabis, who already have chronic inflammation in their bronchi, the pulmonologist recommended changing their consumption to sublingual products such as insomnia drops or food drops, in the idea that they may be using it for pain, anxiety and to help them sleep.
“By generating inflammatory chemicals and diminishing the entire protective system of the bronchi, if cannabis is necessary to manage a chemical condition, the recommendation is to switch to another method, whether swallowed, some type of food, drops or any other method that does not involve heat.
Inhaling cannabis through a vaporizer, cigarette, pipe or any utensil used to smoke it should be changed immediately to an alternate method of ingesting hydrocannabinol, which is the active substance in cannabis,” he warned.
The recommendation would not only help those who actively use cannabis, but also those who live under the same roof, who may also be affected by exposure to smoke inhalation.
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First published in El Nuevo Dia, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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