At this point, it’s safe to assume that everyone in the world knows about the health risks of smoking. However, for those who do smoke, the question isn’t whether or not it’s bad, the question is whether or not quitting is worth the effort.
Most of the information out there on smoking revolves around the harm it does to your body. Rather than taking that route, we’d like to share with you the health benefits of quitting. Let us share with you all the positive things that will happen to your body once you stop smoking.
Smoking increases your heart rate. And believe it or not, in as little as 20 minutes after you’ve had your last cigarette, your heart rate will start drop down towards a normal level. Within two hours, both your blood pressure and your heart rate will drop down to near normal levels. Keep in mind that nicotine withdrawal symptoms also begin to show at around two hours after your last cigarette.
Carbon monoxide is present in the smoke you inhale with every cigarette, and is very toxic to the body in high levels. However, the good news is it happens to be the first toxin to leave your body once you quit smoking.
When you smoke, carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream through your lungs and prevents oxygen from bonding with your blood; it blocks the oxygen your body needs. This may eventually lead to serious heart conditions – along with other health problems. About 12 hours after your last cigarette, your blood oxygen level has increased to normal and the carbon monoxide levels in your body quickly drop.
One day after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) is reduced, as well as your risk of heart attack. After about 2 days, both your sense of taste and your sense of smell will begin to improve, now that your nerve endings have started to regrow. At this point, you’ll also begin to feel irritable due to your cravings.
After around 3 days, the nicotine in your system should completely leave your body. There will be withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, headaches, anxiety, and irritability. Although this may be the most difficult time in quitting, it will pass and the rewards are well worth it.
Starting at around 10 days, your body has now reached the point where your addiction is no longer controlling you. As well, the blood circulation in your teeth and gums has improved significantly.
The Weeks and Months to Follow
At this point, the anxiety, anger, insomnia, and restlessness from addiction withdrawals should be coming to an end – if they do not, it’s time to see a physician.
From 3 weeks up to around 3 months, your blood circulation will dramatically improve. You may notice that you have more energy while doing simple things such as walking.
Cilia are the tiny hair like structures the line the inside of your lungs. They are responsible for pushing mucus out of your lungs. After 30 days of being tobacco free, the cilia inside your lungs will begin to repair from the damage caused by smoking. Once they function properly again, your lungs begin to clear more effectively. As this happens, any shortness of breath or “smoker’s cough” should begin to decrease – although, how fast they repair themselves does depend on the length of time you’ve been smoking.
Reaching One Year
A year without smoking is a huge accomplishment.
At this point, your risk of heart disease has been reduced by half.
The Years After
Within 5 years, your risk of stroke significantly declines, and in 15 years, it should be equal to that of a non-smoker.
After ten years, your risk of cancers including oral, throat, esophageal, and lung will decrease by half. After 15 years, your risk of heart disease and arrhythmia is now comparable to that of a non-smoker. Studies have shown that smokers have a 30-50% risk of developing lung cancer, but 10 years after quitting, that risk is reduced to half.
Once you quit smoking, you will quickly see for yourself how much healthier you are day by day – even without fully understanding what is happening to your body. Remember that smoking is the cause of 90% of cancer deaths around the world, so the benefits of quitting really can’t be overstated. If you’re at the point of being ready to kick the habit, talk to your family and your doctor about your decision so you have all the support you need.
By Dr . Somkiat Wongtim , Pulmonologist, Medical Center, Bumrungrad Hospital
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