Is It Safe to Smoke Weed If You Have a Cold or the Flu?
The safety and long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes or other vaping products still aren’t well known. In September 2019, federal and state health authorities began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and other vaping products . We’re closely monitoring the situation and will update our content as soon as more information is available.
There isn’t any evidence that smoking weed while you have a cough, cold, or the flu is inherently unsafe. But does it make sense?
If your throat and lungs are already irritated, smoking may exacerbate your discomfort. Smoking weed has short- and long-term effects on lung and respiratory function.
You may also find that your body responds differently to weed when you’re sick. Both smoking weed and common illnesses such as the flu can cause fatigue, chills, and headaches. You may feel these effects more intensely when you’re sick.
If you already smoke weed on a regular basis, doing so while you’re sick probably won’t have a drastic impact on your symptoms. Still, you should proceed with caution. This probably isn’t the time to experiment with new dosages and strains.
You should also keep in mind that you can spread your illness to others by sharing a joint, bowl, or bong.
Read on to learn more.
At this time, there isn’t any available research on smoking weed while sick with the cold or flu. Research exploring the use of weed for medicinal purposes is still extremely limited.
Although there may be benefits to smoking weed while sick, it’s unclear if they outweigh the potential negative effects.
According to a comprehensive 2017 review , there’s evidence that weed smoke has anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation plays a role in a number of cold and flu symptoms, including:
- sore throat
- swollen nasal passageways
Weed’s anti-inflammatory properties might help relieve some of these symptoms, but more research needs to be done to understand the exact benefits.
The same 2017 review concludes that weed is an effective treatment for chronic pain among adults.
Chronic pain is ongoing. It’s different than the acute aches and pains caused by a cold or the flu.
Still, it’s possible that smoking weed could help relieve pain associated with short-term illnesses such as a cold or the flu.
A 2017 review of research on cannabis and sleep indicates that weed’s active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may help sleep in the short term.
Given this, smoking weed might help you sleep, but when you’re sick with a cold or the flu your sleep cycle might already be altered.
However, long-term weed use is associated with tolerance to the drug’s sleep-inducing effects. In other words, if you’re a regular user, weed might not be as effective in helping you sleep.
Although there’s no serious risk, combining weed with OTC cold and flu medications that have sedative effects, such as NyQuil, can intensify drowsiness and affect cognitive function. You may find it more difficult to concentrate or make decisions.
Can smoking or ingesting marijuana while taking OTC medications for cold and flu result in any adverse effects?
Marijuana should be used with caution while taking OTC medications for cold and flu. Some OTC remedies alter how the body processes the psychoactive components of marijuana, which may lead to an accumulation of excess effects.
Additionally, many OTC options have dry mouth, sedation, confusion, blurry vision, heart rate alterations, and loss of balance as typical side effects in susceptible users; marijuana consumption may lead to worsening of these effects.
To avoid risk of adverse effect, wait to use marijuana (if an occasional or rare user) or do not increase your typical dose consumed (if a routine user) if you require OTC cold or flu medications.
Daniel Murrell, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Remember, there hasn’t been any research on weed use while sick with a cough, cold, or flu. In addition, studies on the use of weed for medicinal purposes are limited.
There’s moderate evidence that smoking weed can lead to the following side effects, but this list may not be complete due to the lack of research.
According to a 2017 review , smoking weed in the long term is associated with a chronic cough and excess phlegm production.
If you’re sick with a cough, cold, or flu, smoking weed could make your respiratory symptoms worse. This is because weed smoke irritates the throat and airways.
Other routes of administration, such as vaping, generally don’t have the same effect on the respiratory system.
Dizziness is a common side effect of both inhaling and ingesting cannabis. Cannabis use can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure that may leave you feeling faint or light-headed.
If you already feel weak or dizzy while sick with a cough, cold, or flu, weed could make it worse.
If you’re a regular user, you may be able to minimize dizziness by decreasing your dosage.
Inhaling or ingesting cannabis activates cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal system. This can cause a variety of effects, including stomach pain and inflammation.
Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a rare condition linked to long-term cannabis use, causes severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Weed use could exacerbate stomach symptoms caused by a cold or the flu, especially if you tend to experience stomach pain when you use weed. You may be able to minimize these effects by decreasing your dosage.
There isn't any evidence that smoking weed while you have a cough, cold, or the flu is inherently unsafe. But if your throat is already irritated, smoking may feel uncomfortable. Your body may also respond differently to weed while you’re sick. Here's what you should know about toking, vaping, edibles, and more.
I’m Sick. Should I Smoke Weed?
During cold and flu season, it can feel like there’s no escape from the sniffles, sore throats and piles of tissue. Some folks might be thinking about turning to weed to ease the aches and pains of a cold or flu. But is smoking weed a good idea when you’re feeling under the weather?
How does smoking cannabis affect healthy lungs?
If you’re experiencing respiratory symptoms, remember that smoking anything, including cannabis, causes irritation to the lungs. When you light cannabis on fire, the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant molecules combust and give off smoke that transports the molecules into your lungs and your bloodstream. With this smoke comes compounds produced by combustion that can be harmful to the lungs. Smoking damages the cells in your lungs that protect them against germs and dust, leading to more mucus production and the potential for bacterial infection. The increase of mucus also makes it easier for bacteria to grow and remain in the lungs. Lung issues such as bronchitis and pneumonia can turn into chronic issues with continued smoking.
How does smoking cannabis affect me when I’m sick?
If you feel like you have a cold or the flu, smoking weed really depends on personal preference. The consensus among doctors is that cannabis does not affect the common cold or flu. It can cause discomfort if you’re already irritated, but it can also soothe muscle aches and inflammation caused by flu or fever. Cannabis smoke has been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects , both of which can help with fever aches and soothe a swollen throat. Smoking weed can also increase your appetite and help you sleep when rest is elusive.
While it’s up to personal experience whether smoking hurts or helps when you’re sick, there’s an increased risk of spreading your illness when smoking with others, particularly when you’re sharing a joint, bowl, or bong among a group. When all is said and done, you don’t need to smoke to cannabis to enjoy its benefits. If you have respiratory issues, consider tinctures or edibles in lieu of smoking.
Can I smoke cannabis with OTC medicine?
Most doctors recommend caution when using cannabis with over-the-counter remedies, as cannabis can sometimes worsen the existing effects of the medicine. These side-effects include dry mouth, sedation, blurry vision, and dizziness. Always consult your doctor before mixing cannabis with other medications.
Why do I get sick when I smoke cannabis?
Marijuana contains several active compounds, including THC, that bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are present throughout the body, including the digestive tract and the esophageal sphincter, the band of muscle that allows food into the stomach from the esophagus. Long-term exposure to cannabis can change the way these receptors respond and lead to symptoms of a condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a condition that leads to severe, repeated bouts of vomiting and only occurs in long-term, daily users of cannabis. While the condition is rare, it can lead to abdominal pain, ongoing nausea, decreased food intake and symptoms of dehydration.
Many people take long showers or seek medical care when these symptoms arise, and they only stop when an individual completely stops using cannabis. The recovery phase can last days or months, and symptoms can often return if a person smokes marijuana again.
So, can I smoke weed when I’m sick?
The bottom line is that cannabis can better or worsen symptoms of illness depending on the consumption method you use and your body’s individual response. It’s best to consult your doctor if you’re considering consuming cannabis while sick. Also, consider your friends and family should you be thinking about partaking in a group session while you’re under the weather. Germs are easily spread when you share glass, joints and blunts.
I’m Sick. Should I Smoke Weed? During cold and flu season, it can feel like there’s no escape from the sniffles, sore throats and piles of tissue. Some folks might be thinking about turning to