All types of hepatitis progress slowly and remain undetected until the pain near your chest intensifies progressively. You may have hepatitis if you’ve recently had a poor appetite and are frequently dizzy and vomiting after eating.
If you’re feeling some pain in the upper right part of your abdomen and have been smoking for years, you might be experiencing some infrequent hepatitis symptoms – it’s best to have yourself checked as soon as possible.
In today’s post, let’s take a look at how smoking increases your risk of hepatitis and other factors that affect it aside from tobacco.
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Compromises the Immune System
Your body’s immune system is how it fights against infectious bacteria in the body. Continuous exposure to cigarette smoke weakens the immune system, increasing your risk of having any type of hepatitis.
The liver is the organ responsible for filtering the blood, ensuring your metabolism remains stable, storing your vitamins and minerals, and more. If it weakens and does not work well, your immune system also fails to function effectively.
The 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke will decrease the production of antibodies that neutralise harmful substances and all types of viruses and bacteria, including hepatitis-causing ones.
Furthermore, smoking and drinking simultaneously will inflame your liver, causing it to function poorly and increase your risk of having fatal diseases.
Liver Cell Damage
Smoking causes damage to the liver by increasing the amount of dangerous free radicals circulating in your body.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that will attempt to stabilise themselves (also known as oxidative stress), causing damage to the liver cell and other organs in the body in doing so.
Because it’s involved in your metabolism and filtration of chemicals from cigarette smoke in the blood, the liver is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Moreover, the organ will swell as it tries to repair itself, making you feel uncomfortable due to inflammation.
Now, if you keep on smoking, the continued exposure to cigarette smoke further ups the amount of oxidative stress, causing consistent liver inflammation that could progress into cirrhosis.
Other Factors That Increase the Risk of Hepatitis
The effects of smoking on the liver demonstrate how it increases the risk of contracting diseases of all kinds. If you’re also doing any of the following, you might expect your liver to function poorly or be severely damaged.
Drugs that contain opioids are known to weaken the immune system. By smoking and consuming other dangerous substances, the body becomes prone to many infections as the liver progresses towards severe cirrhosis and, later on, organ failure.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
As mentioned, smoking and drinking cause permanent damage to the liver if done simultaneously over a long period.
When alcohol is consumed, it is primarily metabolised in the liver. Enzymes in the liver break it down and create chemicals that cause severe liver cell damage.
Moreover, continuous consumption of alcohol increases the amount of free radicals in your body. Combined with the volume of oxidative stress cigarettes produce, your liver is at high risk of inflammation and long-term damage.
Unsanitary Food Preparation
It’s important to know where you’re sourcing your food or if your favourite restaurant is sanitary – especially if you love eating sushi or lightly cooked meats.
Many cases of hepatitis-A originate from food stored and prepared in unsanitary conditions and handled without proper care.
If you love eating from markets, unlicensed food trucks, or that old little take away joint with the weird smell, think twice before doing so, especially if you’ve been smoking for years.
Does Vaping Also Increase Your Hepatitis Risk?
Unfortunately, there are very few studies on how vaping affects the liver.
Nicotine vaping products (NVPs) are believed to be safer than smoking because they don’t expose you to the thousands of dangerous chemicals in cigarettes. But that level of safety depends on where you buy your vapes.
Illegal under-the-counter NVPs from corner stores, tobacconists, and other establishments contain enormous traces of lead and nickel, two dangerous metals that are gravely toxic to the human body.
These illicit NVPs are made for maximum profit by parties unconcerned about your wellness and health in unsanitary environments without any regard for acceptable standards (let alone medical standards).
NVPs from Pharmacies
On the other hand, NVPs that you can buy from pharmacies are manufactured and distributed like other trusted medicines. They’re only available through a prescription and as a second means to stop smoking in a smoking cessation programme.
NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
Furthermore, they’re much better than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
Smoking is a preventable burden that also increases your risk of developing one of the worst diseases in the world. By stopping smoking, along with changing your habits and lifestyle, you can significantly lower the risk of having hepatitis.
If you’re reading this because you feel that smoking and hepatitis are closely related, we hope this information has helped you in many ways. Also, if you’re struggling to quit smoking, we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.