Second-Hand Smoke in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Second-hand smoke comes from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe and the smoke that a smoker exhales. The smoke contains nicotine and many other harmful chemicals. Breathing second-hand smoke can cause or worsen health problems including cancer, asthma, coronary artery disease, and respiratory infections. It can make your child's eyes and nose burn and cause a sore throat.

Second-hand smoke is especially bad for babies and young children whose lungs are still developing. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to have ear infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis in the first few years of their lives. Second-hand smoke can make asthma symptoms worse in children.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in your home. If people must smoke, ask them to go outside.
  • If people do smoke in your home, choose a room where you can open a window or use a fan to get the smoke outside.
  • Do not let anyone smoke in your car. If someone must smoke, pull over in a safe place and let the person smoke away from the car.
  • Make sure that your children are not exposed to second-hand smoke at day care, school, and after-school programs.
  • Try to choose non-smoking restaurants and other public places when you go out with your children.
  • Help your family and friends who smoke to quit by encouraging them to try. Tell them about treatment resources. Having support from others often helps.
  • If you smoke, quit. Quitting is hard, but there are ways to boost your chance of quitting tobacco for good.
    • Use nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges. Call a quitline. Ask your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.
    • Keep trying.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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