A hookah or shisha is a water pipe that allows a person to smoke tobacco, often combining it with sweet flavors, such as apple, chocolate, coconut, licorice, or watermelon. People have used hookahs for centuries in ancient Persia and India. Other names for a hookah include water pipe, narghile, or shisha, the latter being a word that can also refer to the flavored tobacco.
Some people have misconceptions that hookah smoking is not harmful to their health or not as dangerous as other smoking types.
A hookah has several universal components, including a water bowl, metal body, a head with holes in the bottom, and a flexible hose with a mouthpiece. The device works by burning charcoal that will then burn a tobacco mixture, as well as heat up the water. The smoke the charcoal generates helps move the tobacco through the water and hose and up to the mouthpiece.
Some of the potential health effects of hookah smoke include:
-- Complications of lung function, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis.
-- Increased risk of heart conditions, such as heart disease and heart attack.
-- Increased risk of cancer, especially lung, throat, and mouth cancer.
-- Premature skin aging, since smoking tobacco can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the skin.
-- Increased risk of infectious diseases, such as mononucleosis and oral herpes.
-- People may also increase their risk of respiratory infections if they share the hookah mouthpiece with others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person puffs on a cigarette an average of 20 times, but they may take 200 puffs during an hour-long hookah session.