What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled involuntarily from cigarette being smoked by others. Unfortunately, it contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds that cause 250 kinds of diseases. It may affect your lungs and heart. Smoke increases your “bad” LDL cholesterol, which puts you at greater risk of heart attack. This also damages the lining of your blood vessels.
Mostly children are of highest risk of secondhand smoke. They can be exposed anytime they are in a place where someone is smoking or has smoked in the past. It is simply because the particles come from the smoke remains. It can be found in the air and dust and it can even circulate in your households. These are left in your clothes, even on your skin. They can stay in your house for weeks or a month after smoking has occurred. This is very risky in children.
Here are the following conditions associated to secondhand smoke exposure in children:
- Respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It is also known as chest infection, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia and LRTI. This is the most common illness in children and is most common during fall and winter. Respiratory illness can be caused by secondhand smoke as well. When someone smokes cigarette, smokes goes into the air and it can be inhaled by children and may cause respiratory infections or can lead to a higher risk of infections. Majority are caused by viruses. Respiratory tract infection refers to any number of infectious diseases involving the respiratory tract. Antibiotics are rarely needed for treatment.
- SIDS or Sudden infant death syndrome. This is known as the unexplained death. This is also called “crib death”. Being around cigarette smokers while in the womb or even after being born will increase the risk of the said syndrome.
- Severe and frequent asthma attacks. Your child may be at greater risk of developing asthma when exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Ear infections. Secondhand smoking causes ear infections in children, mostly 6 years and below. The common symptoms are; aching ear, sleeping trouble, discharge fluids from the ears, headache, fever, slight hearing problems and loss of appetite. So quit smoking to prevent ear infections.
- Chronic cough may last 8 weeks in adults and 4 weeks in children. This cough can be caused by secondhand smoke. It only occurs when there is irritation along the air passages.
All of the said illnesses can be caused by SHS or secondhand smoke. But how can you protect your children from this? Just keep your child away from people who smoke. Do not smoke around your children and don’t even let other people smoke around your children. Do not bring your children to the places where people smoke. Take the smoke-free homes pledge.