Is Smoking Really Dangerous?
There are over seven million deaths that occur annually due to tobacco use. Cigarette smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths in the United States, and 41,000 of those deaths are due to secondhand smoking. More alarming is the fact that smoking patterns have not changed, despite these occurrences. There is a prediction that globally, over 8 million people will die from tobacco-related diseases by 2030. Smoking has dangerous consequences on health and well-being, as it can damage the cells and increase the risk of developing life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Quitting smoking is quite challenging, due to addiction. And for those who successfully quit, they have some experiences at different stages as their bodies heal.
What Happens to your Body when you Quit Smoking?: A Timeline
The blood pressure and pulse drop, then go back to normal after some time.
After eight hours of abstinence, the amounts of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood reduce to half. Nicotine is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while carbon monoxide can use up all the oxygen in the blood and lead to other health problems. There will also be cravings for smoking. As persistent as the cravings may be, the feeling will pass after some time.
People who smoke about a pack of cigarettes a day are twice at risk of heart attack than nonsmokers. After an entire day of not smoking, the risk of having a heart attack decreases; also, the oxygen levels rise, thereby making exercising and physical activity easier.
By this time, the senses of smell and taste have got much sharper, as the nerve endings begin to heal. Also, a lot of clean up happens during this period. The lungs kick out excess mucus and other gunk left from the cigarettes. What`s more? There usually aren`t any more nicotine residues in your body after 48 hours of abstinence.
At this time, the lungs have recovered to a large extent. Breathing gets easier, and an ex-smoker has more energy.
Once a smoker has gone a week without smoking, they are nine times more likely to quit smoking in the long term.
After two weeks, breathing gets a lot easier, as the lung health improves, due to the increased flow of oxygen.
One of the main changes that ex-smokers experience after a month of quitting smoking is heightened energy. There will be a drastic reduction in many smoking-related symptoms such as nasal/chest congestion and shortness of breath during exercise.
After three months, there are major improvements in physical health.
At this point, ex-smokers can handle stressful situations a lot easier without feeling the urge to smoke. Also, there would be less mucus and phlegm in their coughs.
At this time, the lungs would have improved drastically, with greater capacity and healthier functioning. There also are much less craving and withdrawal symptoms at this stage.
After three years of abstaining from smoking, the risk of a heart attack reduces to that of a nonsmoker.
Within three to five years of abstaining from smoking, an ex-smoker’s survival rate is more assured, as their risk of suffering the consequences of long-term smoking reduces by half.
At this time, an ex-smoker is already celebrating a decade of abstinence. Particularly worth celebrating is the fact that the precancerous cells in the body are, at this time, replaced with healthy cells.
After 15 years, the body of an ex-smoker has undergone a lot of recovery and healing. The risk of getting any cardiovascular disease is similar to that of a nonsmoker.
Quitting smoking has long-term health benefits. The risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and pulmonary diseases reduces over time after abstinence. Wondering when to quit smoking? Now is the time!
How to Manage Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms, no doubt, can be challenging, however, there are ways to remain dedicated to abstinence from smoking. We will take a look at some of the ways to manage withdrawal symptoms.
- Keep cigarettes and similar substances away from your surroundings.
- Keep a list of reasons you have decided to quit smoking, and keep the reasons handy for those moments when the temptation to smoke arises.
- Make plans for each day, and stay busy.
- Engage family and friends to help distract you from your cravings, and to keep you motivated.
- When the cravings come, delay acting on them for five minutes, and it will pass ― it usually does.
- Do some deep breathing when the cravings come.
- Drink some water when you feel the cravings.
- Do something else when you feel like smoking.
Distractive Activities that Enable Abstinence
- Have a shower.
- Have some coffee or tea ― you may use a different cup or change where you drink it.
- Sit in a different place or with different people to have some tea, read a magazine or take a scroll through your social media.
- Change the setting of your home and/or office.
- Go for a walk after a meal.
- If you drink alcohol, change the type you drink, and/or hold your drink in your smoking hand.
- Breathe deeply in between tasks.
- Exercise or meditate after work.
- Listen to music or have a piece of fruit sometimes.
- Chew gum or have a bottle of water when you`re with another smoker.
- Hold a stress ball and/or do some easy stretches when you`re watching television.
- Have dinner earlier.
- Have a drink or read a book before bed.
Other Ways to Distract yourself
- Call a friend.
- Ask your partner or a friend for a shoulder massage.
- Sip a glass of water slowly.
- Play with a pet.
- Peel an orange.
- Play a game on your phone.
- Put on some hand cream.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle or crossword.
- Think about the reasons you’re quitting and envision its benefits on your health and others`.
Some Smoking Facts
- In Northern Ireland, about 3,000 people die annually from tobacco use.
- In the United Kingdom, about 106,000 people die by smoking every year, which accounts for one-fifth of all UK deaths
- Lung cancer kills more people than any other type of cancer, and about 80% of these deaths are caused by smoking.
- Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.
- The average smoker loses about 10 years of their life to smoking.
30 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke is enough to reduce coronary blood flow.
- Passive smoking is a cause of ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers. It is also a cause of respiratory disease, asthmatic attacks, cot death, and middle ear disease in children.
- Male smokers have a lower sperm count than male non-smokers, and their semen contains a higher proportion of malformed sperm.
- Smoking is a leading cause of cervical cancer, which is a precursor of cancer death in women worldwide.
- People smoke, chew, and sniff tobacco.
- Tobacco smoking can lead to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, a stroke, a heart attack, cataracts, leukemia, and pneumonia.
- Secondhand smoke can lead to lung cancer and heart disease as well as other health effects in adults and children.
- Nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands to release a hormone, epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.
- Both behavioral treatments and medication can help people quit smoking, however, the combination of both is more effective than adopting only either.