You’re probably concerned if you’re a stoner and have contracted pneumonia. You’re probably even more concerned as a medical cannabis patient because halting cannabis use can exacerbate other conditions you may have. While we’ll dive into pneumonia and smoking weed with pneumonia, consult a medical professional. This is not medical advice; this article is purely for information purposes. So, should you put down your bong or blunt while you have pneumonia? Here’s what we know.
What is Pneumonia?
According to WebMD, pneumonia is a lung infection characterized by pus or fluid in the alveoli. Due to the presence of pus or fluid, your lungs will have difficulty getting oxygen to the rest of your body.
WebMD says you can get pneumonia from bacteria, fungi, and viruses such as COVID-19. However, drinking too much or smoking cigarettes can increase your chances of developing this disease.
- Coughing with mucus
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
While pneumonia is treatable, it can lead to serious issues such as lung abscesses, fluid buildup, difficulty breathing, and septic shock. Is weed a viable treatment? Here is what we know.
Does Smoking Weed Help with Pneumonia?
It may seem that smoking weed could help with pneumonia due to what we know about its symptoms and the symptoms that weed may alleviate.
Veriheal agrees and says that medical marijuana is also able to reduce inflammation. Other sources say there is limited evidence to suggest that regular exposure to weed smoke can reduce inflammation. Therefore it could reduce fever, among other symptoms caused by inflammation.
In addition to reducing inflammation, cannabis may temporarily increase bronchodilation and lung capacity. A 2018 evidence brief says that when cannabis is inhaled, it initially dilates the airways. The airways may stay dilated for minutes to hours, and it’s believed to be dose-dependent.
However, due to the effects of smoking, which we will get into in the next section, Veriheal suggests using a non-smoking method for medical marijuana delivery.
They said, “Vaping and edibles offer more efficient and less irritating methods of delivery while avoiding potentially hazardous free radicals and carbon monoxide from combustion.”
Another thing to consider is whether or not you usually use weed. Generally speaking, if you’re sick, Healthline says weed may not have much of an effect on your symptoms. To be clear, they were not referring to pneumonia specifically. However, they were referring to diseases that affect the respiratory system, such as colds and the flu.
Healthline said, “If you already smoke weed regularly, doing so while you’re sick probably won’t have a drastic impact on your symptoms. Still, you should proceed with caution.” They also advise against experimenting with new strains and dosages while sick.
How Smoking Weed with Pneumonia Can Make it Worse
Weed isn’t usually recommended when you’re sick with a cold or flu. So, chances are, if you have pneumonia, marijuana will make it worse, especially if you smoke it. Even though there are some benefits, there could be side effects. Let’s look at some ways smoking weed can affect pneumonia negatively.
Smoking weed can cause a worsening of your pneumonia symptoms.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that marijuana smoke is considered an irritant to the lungs and throat. Therefore, it can result in heavy coughing.
The evidence brief also said that chronic weed smoking can result in:
- Shortness of breath
- Excess sputum production
- Chest tightness
- Hoarse voice
- Worsening asthma symptoms
- Development of chronic bronchitis
As you can see, weed can cause unpleasant symptoms as well as worsening of symptoms. However, these side effects are associated with smoking weed. If you can, find another method of delivery such as edibles, vaping or dabs.
Interact with Medication
Even if you do opt for edibles, vaping or taking dabs, remember that it may interact with medication you may already be taking. Daniel Murrell, MD told Healthline, that over the counter flu and cold medication may interact with cannabid. Murrell said, “Some OTC remedies alter how the body processes the psychoactive components of marijuana, which may lead to an accumulation of excess effects.”
Medication for pneumonia may not be the same for a cold and flu. However, certain medications like fever reducers, painkillers and cough suppression may be used for pneumonia, as well as cold and flu. It’s best to ask your primary care provider whether or not the medication you’re taking would interact with cannabis.
Even if you’re taking CBD, you should still ask your doctor about possible drug interaction. According to Drugs.com, CBD and acetaminophen (a pain killer) can increase the risk of liver damage. However, weed itself appears to have no interaction with acetaminophen.
There are mixed opinions about antibiotics and weed interaction. Antibiotics which are commonly used to treat pneumonia, may or may not interact with weed. Some sources say that it may worsen the side effects of antibiotics. It’s best to discuss with your doctor whether or not your prescribed antibiotic could interact with weed.
Weaken the Immune System
There is a chance that weed could weaken the immune system. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that THC may have immune weakening effects. In addition to that, they said, “Smoking marijuana may also reduce the respiratory system’s immune response, increasing the likelihood of the person acquiring respiratory infections, including pneumonia”
That means even if you opt not to smoke marijuana, if THC is present in any delivery methods, it can cause immune suppression.
The evidence brief also mentioned that smoking weed may injure the airway as well as increase the risk of developing pneumonia. In addition to that, they went into more details about immune suppression. They said, “Cannabinoids are known to modulate, and possibly blunt immune cells such as B/T lymphocytes, natural killer cells, suppressing phagocytosis by macrophages and altering the presence of cytokines”.
Will smoking weed with pneumonia help you? It is possible that weed can provide pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties to help you feel better. However, weed can also worsen your symptoms, interact with medication and suppress your immune system. If you use weed using another delivery method besides smoking, your symptoms probably won’t worsen. The smoke is primarily responsible for coughing, chest tightness, and other respiratory symptoms. However, we recommend talking to a medical professional to weigh your risk.
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