When a person inhales tobacco smoke, irritating substances settle in the moist lining of the airways. These substances can cause an attack on a person who has asthma.
Smoke also causes the lungs to make more mucus than normal. As a result, even more mucus can build up in the airways, triggering an attack.
What are the health effects of being exposed to second-hand smoke?
Exposure to second-hand smoke, even for brief periods, can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, coughing and wheezing. Second-hand smoke can seriously intensify symptoms in people with allergies or asthma. Long-term exposure causes heart disease and cancer. And remember, even smokers breathe in second-hand smoke, in addition to the smoke they inhale directly.
The body's ability to take in and use oxygen is decreased by breathing in second-hand smoke. It can affect a non-smoker's lung capacity similar to direct smoking of 1 to 10 cigarettes a day.