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Does Smoking Pot Increase Your Chance Of Coronavirus (COVID-19?)

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Does Smoking Pot Make You More Likely To Get Coronavirus (COVID-19?)

Even scientists don't know everything about the coronavirus, but there are a few things we do know: it's important to keep our distance from others to avoid making the spread even worse, and the virus can take a toll on even a healthy person's lungs.

Obviously, cigarette smoking reduces lung capacity and puts people at greater risk of having serious complications if they contract coronavirus. But does marijuana/pot fall into the same category?

Does smoking weed increase your chances of coronavirus, and if so, does it mean your case of the illness will be more severe? Here's everything we know at this point.

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Does smoking pot increase your chance of Coronavirus (COVID-19?)

Coronavirus comes with serious risks to your lungs — even possible permanent damage.

Since the virus began spreading across the United States, we've heard a lot about the fact that shortness of breath is a major symptom — and that some people are needing to be placed on ventilators, which can cause permanent lung damage and doesn't guarantee a favorable outcome. People with asthma and other breathing difficulties are at an increased risk, and we already know that smoking in general can seriously damage lungs, too. 

But does smoking weed Increase chances of getting the virus? It does increase your chances of complications.


A post shared by American Lung Association (@lungassociation) on Mar 28, 2020 at 9:05am PDT

According to what Dr. Albert Rizzo from the American Lung Association, smoking pot can cause lungs to become inflamed, which is what you want to avoid if you could come into contact with the cornavirus.

"What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause," Dr. Rizzo said. "Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there."

Pot smoking also makes It harder for doctors to diagnose COVID-19 based on symptoms.

Dr. Mitchell Glass, who also works at the American Lung Association, added that if someone smokes pot, it can be even harder to tell if their respiratory symptoms are from smoking or from COVID-19, and that's not a situation anyone should be in when they're trying to determine ift they have a novel virus that could ultimately require hospitalization.

"Covid-19 is a pulmonary disease," Dr. Glass said in an interview. "Do you really want to have a confounding variable if you need to see a doctor or a healthcare worker by saying, 'Oh, and by the way, I'm not a regular user of cannabis, but I decided to use cannabis to calm myself down.' You don't want to do anything that's going to confound the ability of healthcare workers to make a rapid, accurate assessment of what's going on with you." 

Even occasional weed smoking can be dangerous.

Doctors don't know for sure just yet, but it's possible at this point that any kind of smoking can be considered an underlying condition that makes it more likely for someone to contract coronavirus — and then to show more serious symptoms and complications than someone who doesn't smoke at all. 

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All types of smoke inhalation can put someone at risk. 

Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse issued a statement claiming that any type of smoke entering our lungs can increase the risk and severity of coronavirus. 

“Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana, or who vape,” said the statement. "People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health."

Always be honest with your doctor. 

Even though it can be hard to admit to using weed when talking to a doctor about your symptoms, It's imperative that you do — every bit of information will help them figure out how to diagnose and treat you, whether you're suffering from coronavirus or not. It's a tough time right now, and a lot of people are turning to pot to help calm down, but it's just another one of those risks that might be better off the table until the spread is more controlled.

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Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.