If you’re using marijuana with regularity, you should consider doing your part to avoid respiratory illnesses. This is how I came to appreciate my ability to take a full, deep breath. Also, simple ways to help preserve your respiratory health.
How I Became Aware of Respiratory Illnesses
I have been a regular cannabis user for a few years now. My habitual Friday and Saturday night beers were replaced for two or three hits of weed on the weekends. My modest weed-smoking routine went on this way for a few years. I never put much thought into respiratory health. Previously, I smoked cigarettes through my late-teens and twenties. Who really cares about health consequences when you’re in your twenties?
Last year, my wife was pregnant with our second daughter. Everything went smoothly with the pregnancy until the last two months. In the eighth month, my wife started getting pain in the bottom of her pregnancy bump.
My Wife Develops a Respiratory Illness
Two days later, we went to the hospital. My wife had an emergency C-section with a ton of complications. After four days in the hospital, she and the baby were discharged. We enjoyed acclimating to our new family structure for three days until she started feeling pain in her back and shoulders in addition to shortness of breath. The pain got so intense she was screaming in agony when I tried to comfort her with a back massage. We went to the emergency room. After hours of exams, scans and labs, the doctor diagnosed her with a pulmonary embolism.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs1. In most cases, pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs.
The doctor predicted she got the blood clots from the C-section and bed rest after the delivery. The doctors prescribed her blood thinners and monitored in the hospital for a week. Then, she was discharged from the hospital.
Post-Diagnoses And Lung Damage
After that, she had regular appointments with a hematologist and later a pulmonologist. As a result of the pulmonary embolism, she developed asthma. The pulmonologist prescribed her a twice-daily steroid inhaler and a rescue inhaler in the event of asthma attacks. Even with those inhalers, she had constantly had trouble getting a good breath of air. She constantly told me “You don’t know what it’s like not being able to breath”. She was constantly winded from short walks. Like walks from the parking lot to a store entrance. Simple physical tasks made her tired and flush. As a result of seeing her like this, I no longer took my respiratory well-being for granted.
“You don’t know what it’s like not being able to breath”
Ways to Help Reduce Respiratory Illnesses
Don’t Hold Cannabis Smoke In Your Lungs
According to Lung.org, all smoke is harmful to the lung. Toxins and carcinogens are released when the material is combusted. Holding in cannabis smoke in the lungs helps get your really stoned, but it has detrimental to your lungs. Taking deep and long inhales of marijuana smoke can lead to greater exposure to tar.2 In other words, just take a normal hit and let the smoke out.
Replace Combustible Smoking Methods With Edibles
Combustible smoke means you light the herb on fire. Non-combustible smoke comes from indirect heat that leads to smoke vapors. If you’re go-to cannabis ingesting method is smoking blunts, joints, bowls, or bongs you should consider switching to edibles or non-combustible smoke. You can also try using a non-combustible herb vaporizer.
Never Resmoke Burnt Weed
If you’re going to smoke combustible herb, be sure to empty your bowl, chillum, bong each time you smoke up. If you see unburnt marijuana in your bowl from your last session, don’t put more marijuana on top of it.
Periodically Clean Your Bowls, Bongs, Chillums
Keeping your glass clean can help reduce ash, tar, and other carcinogen exposure.
2Wu T-C, Tashkin DP, Djahed B, Rose JE. Pulmonary hazards of smoking marijuana as compared with tobacco. N Engl J Med. 1988;318(6):347-51.