(CNN) — If you’re smoking marijuana to relieve the stress during the quarantine of the pandemic coronavirusexperts say that it is time to think twice.
Smoking marijuana, even occasionally, may increase the risk of more serious complications of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“What happens to the airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the kind of inflammation that can cause smoking cigarettes,” he said Albert Rizzo, pulmonologist and medical director of the American Lung Association. “Now you have some inflammation of the airways and in addition, you have an infection. So, yes, your chance of having more complications is there.”
But maybe you could say that you have just begin to smoke and there is not much, what is the harm?
The problem, said dr. Mitchell Glass, pulmonologist and spokesperson for the American Lung Association, is that the last thing you want during a pandemic is to make it more difficult for a doctor to diagnose your symptoms.
“The covid-19 is a lung disease,” said Glass. “Do you really want to have a variable of confusion if you need to see a doctor or a health professional saying: ‘Oh, and by the way, I am not a regular user of cannabis, but I decided to use cannabis to calm down.”
“You shouldn’t do anything that might confuse the ability of health workers to make a quick and accurate assessment of what is happening to you,” he added.
What that cough is from smoking or coronavirus?
Smoking marijuana as “chronic,” defined as the daily use, damages the lungs over a period of time. The end result “looks a lot like the chronic bronchitis, which is, of course, one of the terms that we use for the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or Copd,” said Glass
Smokers, people with Copd and other chronic lung diseases, as well as people with moderate to severe asthma, are among those who are at high risk of contracting a serious disease due to the covid-19, including the worst case of that I put a fan to to continue breathing.
Signs of lung damage by smoking even a few cigarettes can appear in a matter of days. While one or two hits of marijuana are compared, there are some unique properties of a ‘joint’ of marijuana that are definitely problematic for the lungs even if you’re a smoker again, ” said Glass.
Think of what happens to a cigarette when lit and leave it in an ashtray: it will burn quickly up to the filter, and there will be nothing more than ashes.
“You are surrounded by paper. It is completely dry. It is made to burn at a temperature very high,” said Glass.
Now think about how a burned marijuana cigarette: something always remains of grass, “fag”, as they say.
“The marijuana burns at a temperature much lower than that of a cigarette made commercially,” said Glass. “Because of that, the person is breathing in a certain amount of plant material is not burnt.”
That irritates the lungs in the same way that they do the pollen of ragweed, birch and oak in people who are allergic to them, he said.
“Then, immediately, there are patients who will be increasingly susceptible to bronchospasm or cough because they have an airway more sensitive”.
And given that a dry cough is a sign key covid-19, any cough that is caused by smoking marijuana could easily imitate that symptom, which make the diagnosis difficult.
The need to have the head clear
There is also another factor. As we all know, the marijuana not only calms you, but also affects your ability to function, and that doesn’t get you favors if you have a medical emergency during a pandemic.
“You’re reducing the anxiety, but that’s still a change in your way of thinking, a change in the way in which you handle the facts, how are you capturing the situations,” said Glass.
“Then a health care worker who is dressed, gloved, possibly with a hazmat suit is trying to communicate with you. These are people who are trying to decide if you should go home, go to the emergency room, or in the worst case, get a fan,” he continued.
“They want the person that you are giving your informed consent to have the total control of their thought processes”.
More americans using marijuana
In 2018, more than 43 million americans age 12 or older reported having used marijuana in the last year, according to the National Survey of 2018 on Drug Use and Health.
Around four million of them are people with “disorder by smoking marijuana, which means that this has intensified to the point that it is a problem in their lives,” said Jessica Hulsey, founder of the Addiction Policy Forum, which advocates for the patients and their families struggling with the disorder by substance use and addiction.
“Experts from the National Institutes of Health published some guidelines for our patients and our families. They say that the disorder by consumption of marijuana could be a risk factor of complications of covid-19,” said Hulsey.
“Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes the covid-19 could be a particular threat for those who smoke tobacco or marijuana, or for vapeadores”, he said the INS in your ad.
“We need to make sure that these users are aware that marijuana is, in essence, an underlying health conditions,” added Hulsey. “Should take additional precautions to minimize the use as much as possible, and even start a virtual treatment and recovery journey while you all are trapped in the house.”
The national survey on drug also found that more than a third of young adults between 18 and 25 years said they used marijuana during 2018, along with more than 13% of the adults of 26 years or more.
But it’s not just young people. Earlier this year, a study has found the use by older adults is increasing considerably. In 2006, only 0.4% of people over the age of 65 years reported having used marijuana products in the last year. By 2018, more than 4% of the same elderly people of advanced age say that they are now smoking marijuana, according to the study.
“Marijuana use among older people is not rising and falling as other drugs. Going in a straight line,” said study co-author Joseph Palamar, an associate professor of population health in the Faculty of Medicine Grossman of the University of New York, in an interview in February.
Are there still more americans using the herb during this time of crisis?
In a nutshell, no one knows. Each state handles reports differently, says Glass, and the sales estimates often combine THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the effect and the CBD, the medicinal compound, now sold without prescription.
“I made some phone calls and the numbers ranged literally from one million to 30 million. Then, who knows how many people are taking cannabis to relieve his anxiety during this time,” said Glass.
What to do?
If you don’t smoke marijuana regularly, do not start, experts say.
“Don’t confuse physicians with trying to resolve if your dry cough and your change in behavior is due to the fact that you are a novice with marijuana or is associated with covid-19,” said Glass.
“If you need to see a doctor, be sure to be very honest with them about when you used it last time and how often you use it,” said Glass, “so that they can get a good story and clear about the impact of inhaling marijuana in it.”
Remember the end result when it comes to smoking and its relationship with the covid-19, said Rizzo.
“It is common sense that anything that inhales burnt and containing particulate or chemicals can inflame the respiratory tract,” he said. “So you’re already doing your body fight against foreign particles before they even have to fight against the infection.”