Shisha Tobacco Health Risks and Precautions

Shisha Tobacco Health Risks and Precautions

Originally common in Middle East, smoking shisha tobacco has become very popular globally, especially amongst the youth. False claims regarding hookah tobacco side effects are mostly to blame for the rising worldwide adoption of its usage.

Shisha smoke contains possibly unhealthy chemicals, including various human carcinogens and additional toxic elements. These have acknowledged injurious effects on both active and passive smokers subjected to secondary smoke.

Therefore, this article is going to discuss the shisha tobacco health risks, and recommend how to quit hookah smoking.


Harmful Chemicals in Shisha Tobacco

The volume of smoke inhaled per puff is more when smoking shisha vs cigarettes. A 40-minutes session of hookah smoking is equal to consuming 100 or extra tobacco cigarettes.

The smoke produced by shisha tobacco constitutes over 4800 varying chemicals, with 69 of them being tumor promoters and human carcinogens. The harmful hookah side effects are majorly as a result of the following chemicals in the smoke produced:

  • Nicotine
  • Tobacco-specific Nitrosamines
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitric oxide (NO)
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Ammonia
  • Volatile Aldehydes (Methacrolein, acrolein, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde, and formaldehyde)
  • Heavy metals such as chromium lead and arsenic.
  • Tar
  • Phenolic Compounds
  • Particulate Matter
Toxicty in Shisha Tobacco
Toxicty in Shisha Tobacco

Nicotine presence is the main cause of addiction to tobacco-containing products. It gets into the bloodstream and reaches the brain receptors, which release dopamine. It is this dopamine hormone and neurotransmitter that makes users feel good and cause shisha tobacco addiction.

Hookah tobacco is normally burned using instant coal made from coconut husk. This generates tar, carbon monoxide, and other unhealthy gases mentioned above regardless of tobacco presence in it.

Shisha Tobacco Health Risks

Shisha tobacco smoking is a growing health risk habit, particularly among young people, and it is addictive. Most social events now frequently feature shisha smoking, with same smoking habit among men and women.

Similar to tobacco cigarette smoking, the harmful chemicals contained in hookah tobacco expose both smokers and non-smokers to the danger of developing:


Shisha tobacco contains nicotine, which is very addictive and may lead to many health risks. Nicotine gets to the brain in few seconds and triggers release of dopamine hormone. This hormone results in physiological changes like increased blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.

Developing addiction to hookah tobacco is possible after smoking for just a few times. This is so because you are exposed to high amounts of nicotine when smoking hookah vs cigarettes.

Human Cancer

The quantity of carbon monoxide, tar and aldehyde compounds in a single hookah smoking session is about 4-30 times greater than one cigarette smoking session. Together with additional substances, the mentioned elements are acknowledged likely human carcinogens.

Smoking shisha tobacco causes oxidative stress, carbon monoxide poisoning, has genotoxic effect, heavy metals presence in smoke results in carcinogenesis. There is proof that the practice is a risk agent for nasopharyngeal, esophageal, colorectal, bladder, oral, stomach, and lung cancer.

Cancer on the Lungs of a Smoker
Cancer on the Lungs of a Smoker

Respiratory Effects

Acute carbon monoxide poisoning is another shisha tobacco health risk. This happens when smoking is done within a confined environment for extended hours. Research link hookah smoking to nasal congestion, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and elevated quantity of blood nickel and chromium.

Respiratory Distress on a Shisha Tobacco smoker
Respiratory Distress on a Shisha Tobacco smoker

Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease

Shisha smokers experience metabolic syndrome including abnormal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, and hyperglycemia. Moreover, research shows that the activity increases blood pressure and heart rate by 6 to 13 beats/minute among healthy youth after smoking session. There are also more reported cases of coronary artery ailment among smokers compared to non-smokers.

Cardiovascular Diseases Due to Smoking
Cardiovascular Diseases Due to Smoking

Infectious Diseases

The social nature of shisha tobacco smoking is also a health risk. Waterpipe smoking is a social activity typically involving groups of people sharing a mouthpiece.

This unhygienic practice of sharing one shisha device has the potential of spreading many infectious diseases. Users can contract bacterial infection (tuberculosis), fungal lung infection (aspergillus), stomach ulcers (helicobacter), and viral infection (hepatitis and herpes).

Periodontal Disease

Oral diseases like mouth cancer and periodontitis are among the primary shisha tobacco side effects. Generally, the risk of smokers contracting destructive periodontal disease is 5 to 6 times higher.

Many studies have shown that hookah tobacco smokers experience more severe kind of the disease. This is exhibited by the increased gingival recession, attachment loss, and quicker development and advancement of periodontal inflammation.

Periodontal Disease
Periodontal Disease

Smoking shisha tobacco increases the pervasiveness and seriousness of periodontal impairment by changing the immune response of the individual. This increases the oral cavity susceptibility to proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. Smoking also increases periodontal ailment risks by causing oral microbiota dysbiosis.

Moreover, sweetened or flavored hookah tobacco usually have high sugar content, which can be very to the teeth. Sugar reacts with the plaque to release acid erodes the enamel, and can ultimately result in cavities.

Effects on Pregnancy

Expectant women who smoke shisha can encounter ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine growth restriction, and chromosomal disorders. The habit can also cause low birth-weight babies, increased respiratory issues for the baby, infant ailment and mortality. Second-hand smoke also has shisha tobacco health risks on the fetus and mother.

Harm to Women’s Health

One research found that hookah smoking by women reduces their bone density and increases chance of premature menopause.


Furthermore, smoking hookah tobacco might result in reduced fertility amongst both women and men. Some study discovered that sperm morphology and sperm motility were adversely affected in men who smoked shisha often in comparison to non-smokers.

Infertility Due to Smoking
Infertility Due to Smoking

How To Reduce Hookah Effects

Reducing shisha tobacco effects involves running initiatives with the goal of creating awareness and eventually decreasing usage. This is important because most users are not normally aware of the hookah tobacco health risks, thus the widespread adoption.

Some of the initiatives of how to reduce hookah effects include:

  • Educating all concerned parties about the health risks of shisha smoking both to the smoker and the public as passive smokers.
  • Stamping shisha tobacco products with the applicable health cautions and banning misleading ones.
  • Forbidding hookah smoking in areas with operational cigarette and additional kinds of tobacco smoking
  • Including waterpipe tobacco and associated flavored products in the laws governing cigarette tobacco and related commodities.

How To Quit Hookah Smoking

Deciding to quit smoking shisha tobacco is a brave step to living a healthy life. It might be tough sometimes, but all is possible with commitment.

You can consult your doctor or ask your local pharmacist to provide you with stop the most successful smoking cessation program. They will assist you in coming up with strategy for quitting shisha and recommend nicotine replacement therapy or medication.

If you find quitting waterpipe tobacco challenging, it may be helpful to be keen on what triggers your desire to smoke. Plan upfront for situations that push you into smoking, maybe you normally smoke if drinking alcohol, tired, or stressed. Planning ahead will help you come up with new strategies to cope.

Let us go through some quick tips of how to stop smoking shisha tobacco:

Avoid Shisha Smoking Sessions:

 Do your best to avoid being in the company of individuals involving in hookah smoking at social events. Be patient and positive if you yearn to quit smoking. Adhere to a properly-balanced diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Ask For Assistance

 Request your family, friends, and support groups to assist you stop hookah smoking addiction.

Go For Counselling

Seeking the services of a counsellor will help you think positive and cease smoking.

Start Exercising

Working out helps in stimulating the brain to generate endorphins, which can make you have thefeeling of happiness and relaxation. Exercising can also help in improving your mood, self-esteem, posture and alleviate stress.

Do Household Chores

You can keep yourself busy and fit by doing household chores like cleaning the house, clothes or utensils.

Involve in Sport Activities of Choice

This can be an alternative to working out in the gym. Engaging in sports that you enjoy will distract you from hookah smoking and help you stay healthy and fit.


Currently, there are many shisha tobacco flavors with some not containing nicotine. So, just ensure you make the right decision before smoking shish tobacco.

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