passive smoking: I have bronchietasis... - Lung Conditions C...

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passive smoking

Spanielblue profile image

I have bronchietasis and do not smoke. However, a friend has suggested to me that I might have the condition because I was exposed to my ex-husband's smoking for 18 years. Also, when younger I was often in the company of friends who used to smoke. Do any of you lung friends know whether passive smoking can be the cause of lung conditions?

45 Replies

I was told, Yes and in my case, as I already had the asthma from so young, made it worse. My father smoked a pipe, no problem when in the tropics, as all windows open, but when in the UK in winter definitely made worse,

It must have been awful having asthma and living with someone who smoked a pipe. As you know, I have lifelong extensive bronchiectasis. I had a lift to school with a neighbour who lit his pipe as soon as we got in the car. By the time I got to school I was coughing so hard that I could not breathe. I will never understand how my mother made me go with him when she must have known how much I suffered.

Parents do have their little foibles!!

Most ofy famoly smoke inc my grandad who smoked a pipe not only living in a pub above the bars i got customers smole as well. My gran never smoked but died from lung cancer we believe itwascaused by my grandad smoking apipe. So you could say ive a passive smoker since i was a baby.

Digger0 profile image
Digger0 in reply to SORRELHIPPO

Where in the tropics were you? I was in East Africa for 12 years.

SORRELHIPPO profile image
SORRELHIPPO in reply to Digger0

Nigeria from 1952 until 1964 and then Fiji Islands, 1968-1970, followed by various visits up until Dad died in 1985, when still working there (civil engineer roads, bridges and in Fiji airfields). So a good bit of sun and familiarity with a good many airports!!

Digger0 profile image
Digger0 in reply to SORRELHIPPO

Yes, when we flew out for holidays we had to refuel at Entebe and Rome I think. Good old BOAC Comets - before the window fell out!

SORRELHIPPO profile image
SORRELHIPPO in reply to Digger0

Yup, my memories also, proper cooked breakfast yummmmm, when I was 8, flying back to Lagos, (down in Rome to refuel) I deliberately lost my "universal aunt". Trotted up the steps, where this exasperated stewardess informed me, her plane went to India, she had to call for assistance. Lovely child me.

Digger0 profile image
Digger0 in reply to SORRELHIPPO

And being invited into the cockpit to see the captain! Would not be allowed these days!

SORRELHIPPO profile image
SORRELHIPPO in reply to Digger0

Dad used to just light his pipe and snooze if we were travelling as a family. It was tame stuff for him, when he hit 18 (1942) called up, joined the Navy. After aptitude tests they trained him as a navigator and sent him to an Aircraft Carrier. This went to the Pacific, to fight alongside the Americans, he said he spent most of his war, sitting in the back seat of a aircraft, going in every decreasing circles round the Indian or Pacific Oceans, with the Pilot saying, "but Fred you are the navigator, you are supposed to know where the Carrier is".

Bronchiectasis is not caused by smoking or smoke inhalation although the smoke from any source can be very distressing to anyone who has bronch and can exacerbate their daily problems.Bronchiectasis is caused by damage from infection. Repeated pneumonia, long term infections with asthma and in the past, whooping cough.

Your friend is confusing bronchiectasis with COPD (emphesema and chronic bronchitis) which can develop from smoking or environmental factors.

You sound very knowledgeable about this so will go with your answer. From the replies I have read it doesn't seem as many people really know . I suppose it is because we all realise now that smoking can be responsible for lung and breathing problems. Thank you for answering

I have had many conversations with my consultants about this, especially my current one whom I have been with for 16 years. She is senior on the British Thoracic Society and co wrote the guidelines for bronch treatment.She does have an idea that non cf bronch is on the cf spectrum because cf patients have bronchiectasis, but caused in part by infection caused by the cf dna.It is infection damage to the lungs which causes bronchiectasis and environmental (eg smoking) which causes the copd type of damage.

However, it is difficult to distinguish what caused the infection which resulted in the damage. For example, I had pneumonia in both lungs 5 times in the first 6 years of my life which resulted in bronchiectasis but it is not known why I had the pneumonias. I have no cf gene (as far as can be seen from those known of) and I don't have asthma or had whooping cough or have pcd which is an inherited condition where the cillia in the airways do not work properly to clear mucus from the lungs and airways and causes infections from which bronchiectasis results.

So as Charlie said, 'some people never know why' and I am one of them!

maggy12 profile image
maggy12 in reply to Littlepom

I have had bronchiectasis all my life it was caused by immune problems, causing pneumonia as a baby, I am 72 now so hope for you all xx

maggy12 profile image
maggy12 in reply to maggy12

In answer to littlepom I had Whooping cough and impaired immunity to pneumococcus. my parents were offered removal of a lobe of my lung as a child but my Father wouldnt sign the consent form.

Littlepom profile image
Littlepom in reply to maggy12

My mother refused to let them cut out my lower lobe when I was 3 because I had damage all over both lungs from pneumonias. When we met an amazing man in 1956 who put me on radical treatment which is basically what we have today, he told my Mum that her refusal had saved my life and meant that I could have a good quality of life as lung tissue still there to exchange gases, even though damaged. I too am 72 and have and have had a very full life. We bronchs are a tough lot!

maggy12 profile image
maggy12 in reply to Littlepom

I was on 3 monthly iv abs until the pandemic, not as well now but managing, I have stayed home and always wear a mask in company but its had a cost as my legs are very weak. its nice to hear from some in similar circumstances, take care Littlepom xx

Heaven20 profile image
Heaven20 in reply to Littlepom

Yes, I was also told this by my consultant as I was a smoker years ago, I had pleurisy and pneumonia many years ago and said was the probable cause.

kenta profile image
kenta in reply to Littlepom

This is exactly as I was told when diagnosed with Bronchiectasis. I have never smoked, although my brothers did, but I did have many episodes of bronchitis, pneumonia and pleurisy. Years before my diagnosis my thenGP said nothing could help except maybe going to live in the Bahamas. We were posted to Bahrain for six years, the healthiest years of my life.

Littlepom profile image
Littlepom in reply to kenta

Yes lived in Florida and never had an exacerbation. Beirut, although hot, was too polluted. Because of the nature of our lung damage I have come to the conclusion that it is clean air, regardless of the climate ( although I hate the cold) which is best for us. But as we are all different there may be some with bronch, possibly also with asthma, who won't think the same.

I dont think it can cause it but it can agravate the problem. Same as open fires in badly venterlated rooms and any fumes that are in the enviroment, i think we are more aware now than ever befor of how are enviroment affects us and are health.

With the caveat that I’m not medically qualified. Passive smoking is known to be associated with a number of health problems and diseases, the obvious one being lung cancer, but also non-respiratory conditions like heart disease. My understanding is that COPD may also be associated with passive smoking for some people. However, the problem with all of these things, and particularly conditions like bronchiectasis, is that we still don’t fully understand the disease mechanism or what causes it: it’s very hard to know whether something is a trigger or cause if you don’t understand the underlying pathology of a disease. There are people with COPD that smoked, and people that were exposed to secondhand smoke, but there are also those with COPD who fall into neither category. Conversely, there are those that smoked or spent a lot of time around smokers that never develop any respiratory issues. I’m sure patients with bronchiectasis would paint a similar picture of smoke exposure if surveyed.

There is a theory that has gained traction over many years that all obstructive lung diseases (like asthma, COPD, and bronchiectasis) are related to the gene that causes cystic fibrosis, or at least the function of the gene. Cf is a progressive, life limiting disease primarily effecting the lungs and digestive system, and the lung disease seen over time is a combination of all the types of damage seen in those other conditions. It incorporates small airway disease, bronchiectasis, and emphysema, as well as changes associated with chronic bronchitis. Scientists are exploring whether obstructive disease is almost a spectrum of dysfunction in the production and use of chloride ions in the cells, with cf - which we know is caused by these issues - at one end. As a result, they are studying whether some of the newer treatments that have emerged for cf in recent years, that essentially target and attempt to normalise the production and transport of chloride, might be beneficial to other patient groups. Prior studies do suggest that many patients with COPD and asthma have measurable chloride dysfunction. Ironically, despite generally being considered a more closely related condition, the data for bronchiectasis is less well established. But we do know that there are higher numbers of known carriers (so known as having one faulty gene associated with cf) in the bronchiectasis community than in the general population and other respiratory conditions.

Really, all of this is a long way of saying that, as I understand it, it’s impossible to say whether or not your bronchiectasis could be associated with secondhand smoke. In addition to those that have never been exposed, either directly as smokers or passively, the fact that people can develop the condition at any point in life, including as very young children, would suggest that there’s probably a number of reasons it happens. It could be that for some people, the chemicals in smoke trigger a dormant biological process that then gives rise to respiratory disease further down the line, but at this stage we just don’t know, and that wouldn’t apply to everyone.

Cloudancer profile image
Cloudancer in reply to Charlie_G

Wow Fabulous reply thank you so much for sharing.

HollyBoyd profile image
HollyBoyd in reply to Charlie_G

Thank you Charlie G for sharing.

I read every word and found it all interesting. Thank you!

I far as i know yes. Even though history of asthma in the family i started with hayfever then went into asthma later in life but my brothers and sisters dont have any symptons but my eldest his two had childhood asthma and myyounger sister her 3 have got it and her eldest daughter her two sons got it. My younger sis husband got it but havent been diagnosed gps wont test him for it.So he tends to use his daughters inhaler and gets relief from an attack its seasonal one. Now hes retired he can book to see an asthma nurse.

My mum smoked while pregnant with me she was told to stop smoking as may harm the baby. My dad also smoked cigars but i was also exposed to bleach when cleaning the kitchen floor. I often coughed while undertaking this chore.

CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to Matilda_1922

The only time my mum smoked was while she was pregnant with me. When I was an outpatient at the North West lung centre one of the professors was part of a worldwide group doing research into the effect of smoke on the foetus and early childhood. Their theory was that it could affect lung development and make that child more susceptible to developing lung disease in later life. My mum didn't smoke after I was born but my dad was a heavy smoker. I'm an ex smoker but my dad never developed lung disease. It does make me wonder sometimes. You are the first person I have come across whose mum also smoked while pregnant.

Kpacific profile image
Kpacific in reply to CDPO16

My mom smoked while she was pregnant with me and two packs a day while I was growing up. I was diagnosed with bronchiectasis at age 66. I think that the damage done to my lungs by second hand smoke increased the probability of my getting lung disease.

CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to Kpacific

That is the theory the professor was working on. It certainly made me wonder.

Cloudancer profile image
Cloudancer in reply to CDPO16

Years ago when a midwife we were told not to do foetal heart monitoring straight after a pregnant mum had had a cigarette because at that time it was thought the umbilical chord blood vessels were affected and the heartbeat would show foetal distress....

CDPO16 profile image
CDPO16 in reply to Cloudancer

The more one thinks about it the more sense it makes. I believe that it is now thought that the placenta doesn't afford the foetus the protection it was once thought to.

You've had some interesting answers. One of my consultants told me not to look back to what may, or may not, have caused my copd, we can't change it, but to look forward, manage the copd and live now.

Tykelady profile image
Tykelady in reply to Karenanne61

A wise observation.

Interesting answers, I have bronciactsis my consultant told me it started from very bad measles as a child and a lot of chest infections but to asthma and Bronchitis as a child. Every one has different options.

My dad was a chain smoker so I was exposed to passive smoke for my first 18 years. I was diagnosed with bronchiecstasis 10 years ago, and I asked the consultant if it was caused by my dad’s smoking and it was a categorical no! I had bronchitis many times as a baby and it’s thought this is the most likely cause.

Yes, passive smoking can harm your lungs, but not as far as I am aware cause bronchiectasis. My mum in later stages of life had shortness of breath but caused not by smoking but living in the east end of Sheffield until around 30 years of age.

In the 1980's I worked nights as a midwife.The nurses room was on labour suite and as most nurses smoked(not me) the air was thick with second hand smoke.I do think this contributed to the severe asthma and chronic lung disease I now have.

Don't know if any research has been done on this....

My mother smoked until her death at 67. I smoked for almost 40 years but gave up 20 years ago. I was told that having whooping cough as an infant could have weakened my lungs and made them more susceptible to lung disease in later life.

Good morning i think its time to change freinds as they smoke its putting your health at risk / i found that once i ad ill health 10 years ago i had to change freinds any way nornally i ill not allow smoking in my flat any way these faps are just as bad they sink too G R

My father smoked a pipe and my mother smoked 20+ cigarettes a day until I was 21!

The entertainer Roy Castle died of lung cancer, which he put down to passive smoking whilst doing his stuff in smoky clubs and pubs. I put my Bronchiectasis down to having a chest infection with the bug Staphliocochus Aureus, which I had from March to November 2014. Oral AB's wouldn't sort it, and an IV one did. A scan showed I had now got Bi-basal Bronchiectasis. I should have been sent to hospital much sooner; I blame my surgery.I understand acid reflux can cause bronchiectasis, when stomach acid gets up the oesophagus and down the bronchi into the lungs.

I have asthma and COPD and lung nodules. I have never smoked but both my Parents did so I am classed as a passive smoker.

Yes it is commonly called second hand smoke, and it does happen to affect others. It killed my Mother as my Father smoked his entire life around her, naturally the smoking also took his life. Smoking is a horrible pleasure some people partake. Going back in time, (after the Second World War) nicotine was thought of as a good thing to be around, the medical profession was not yet fully aware of the harm smoking can and will do to a person exposed to it. Oddly not everyone is affected the same way or due to time of their exposure, my Great Grandfather smoked non filter Camel brand until he was 90 years old, two or more packs a day. He died 8 years after he stopped smoking of lung cancer.

Yes. I gave up smoking before too much damage had been done, but was then exposed to my late husband's continual smoking after he started again. He died of health problems related to smoking and other issues. Fortunately, my COPD is not as severe at present as his became.

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