Pharma

Is coronavirus mainly spread through coughing? How MMJ smokers can reduce their risk

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Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first few months of 2020, many people have been affected by the disease. Approximately 103 million people have contracted the virus at the time of writing, with over two million of those people having lost their lives to the disease. With the pandemic still in full swing around the world, concerns about catching the virus and suffering serious complications are still on everyone’s lips.

For those who use medical marijuana to deal with complications from chronic illnesses, this concern can be compounded, especially if the route of ingestion chosen is through smoking. But how does smoking medical marijuana affect COVID-19? And are those who use medical marijuana more at risk?

How is COVID-19 mainly transmitted?

There are many ways that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted from person to person. The greatest risk of transmission is from airborne droplets. When a person coughs, sneezes, sings, screams, or speaks, droplets of breath are forced into the air. If someone inhales infected droplets, they too now have the virus in their body.

The droplets range in size from small (often called aerosols, which can linger in the air) to large (which quickly fall to the ground). This suggests that larger droplets are less threatening than smaller ones. Coughing can produce both large and small droplets, depending on where it comes from. If the droplets are produced in the larynx and then coughed into the air, they are likely to be smaller droplets, while droplets from the oral cavity are typically larger when coughing.

Image by Elsa Olofsson via Unsplash: Could Smoking Medical Marijuana Increase Your Risk of Containing COVID-19?

Are Smokers More Prone To COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, smokers may be more susceptible to contracting the virus, but not because of the effects of smoking on the body. Smokers are likely to be more susceptible because they put something into their mouth with their hands that may be contaminated. This hand-to-mouth movement increases the likelihood of transmitting the virus.

Many people also often smoke in social situations, which can lead to an increased risk of transmission if the sharing occurs. For those who smoke medical marijuana, this social aspect is generally eliminated and therefore the risk of transmission is lower than for those who smoke cigarettes or recreational marijuana.

How could smoking affect COVID-19?

Since smoking medical marijuana increases the risk of infections and respiratory complications, if someone becomes infected with the virus, results may be worse. Smoking cannabis can damage the lungs, and since COVID-19 is a lung infection, it can lead to more severe symptoms. Some research has also shown that THC can potentially alter the effectiveness of the immune system, which could make it harder for someone to fight off a COVID-19 infection.

However, other studies have found conflicting results when it comes to cannabis and immunosuppression. Other research has also found that using CBD can actually reduce complications and severe symptoms in patients with COVID-19. However, the information is inconclusive and further study is needed to determine the accuracy of the study’s results. In the study, it was also not clear whether CBD was ingested through smoking.

Alternative MMJ dosing methods

Using medical marijuana via smoking may be the first choice for ingestion for some patients. Given the lung health implications and considering the COVID-19 pandemic, some may want to change how they perceive MMJ. The good news is that there are many dosage methods out there for those in need of medical marijuana to cope with their chronic conditions.

The first alternative that is most similar to smoking is vaporization. The process is similar, but when using a vaporizer, steam is inhaled instead of smoke. However, it’s not clear whether or not steam is a healthy alternative to smoking in this case.

MMJRecs - rubbersImage by Sarah Takforyan via Unsplash: Medical marijuana has many dosage methods, including edible gums.

Non-inhalation methods, which can be a good option for those looking to change their dosing method, include eating MMJ, topical application, or oils. Edible medical marijuana can be ingested through various types of foods, such as gum drops or baked goods. Topical marijuana delivers the dose by applying it to the skin, and oils are absorbed by placing the appropriate dose under the tongue until it dissolves in the mouth.

Each method has different waiting times to feel its effects. For example, someone who smokes medical marijuana will likely feel the effects minutes after ingestion, while an edible dose can last up to two hours.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people may want to do everything possible for their health to ensure that if they contract the virus, they have a chance to fully recover. For those who use medical marijuana, it means sticking to course in your treatment and opting for a different dosing method if you are concerned about the risks smoking can cause.

Featured image by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash

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Beth Edmonds