Respiratory illnesses found to be associated with cannabis inhalation

Cannabis use has been associated with respiratory illnesses, according to a new study by The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study wanted to examine the association between cannabis use and respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function, and obstructive lung disease in adolescents and adults, especially since the health effects of smoking cannabis are not well-understood. Respiratory illnesses found to be associated with cannabis inhalation in previous studies as well.

Pulmonary illnesses affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange possible in humans and includes conditions of the upper respiratory tract, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleura and pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of breathing.

Examples of illnesses are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, restrictive lung disease, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). It can even cause a phenomenon called “popcorn lung”.

Smoking tobacco or cannabis increases the risk of lung carcinomas due to carcinogens found in the smoke. Even with vaporization, although recommended over smoking, comes with its own set of risks. Other research shows that vaporizers can release harmful chemicals into the body system.

Certain chemicals like ammonia can negatively interact with the central nervous system. Patients also face other risks, like aggravating asthma or causing bronchial spasms when vaping cannabis.

Data from the aforementioned Annals of Internal Medicine study shows that of the twenty-two studies included, a pooled analysis of 2 prospective studies indicates that cannabis use was associated with an increased risk for cough, sputum (phlegm) production, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Evidence on the association between cannabis use and obstructive lung disease and pulmonary function was insufficient based on the pool provided.

Patients should always be wary of smoking anything due to the repercussions of risks associated with it. Most people who smoke are at a higher risk for respiratory illnesses and thus should aim to use other methods to ingest their product.

With cannabis, oils seem to be the best approach to ingesting, since it can be measured and used with minimal complications.

When in doubt, patients should always double check with their prescribing physicians before taking matters into their own hands.