Smokers are liable to die young and while cigarette smokers are prone to several diseases, the body reacts to it in different ways based on how long it has been in your system,
The human body is an amazing thing. Just 20 minutes after that last cigarette, it begins to recover. Nicotine, the addictive chemical in smoking, acts as a stimulant and gives that all-important ‘kick’. Not long after the last puff of smoke, heart rate, and blood pressure return to normal following this high.
This is the testing time when most smokers reach for another cigarette. The effects of withdrawal are strong as nicotine leaves the bloodstream and cravings start to happen.
Anxiety and ‘stress’ levels peak. The feeling of stress associated with quitting smoking isn’t usually stress – it’s a sign of withdrawal. That’s why it’s untrue that smoking de-stresses, it’s just feeding a craving. Research shows non- and ex-smokers feel less stressed than smokers.
If you decide to go ‘cold turkey’ there’s no nicotine left in the body but it’ll take a while to adjust to this new feeling. Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gum, patches or e-cigarettes supplies the body with nicotine and allows smokers to wean themselves off smoking gently, making it easier to quit cigarettes. Taste and smell receptors are given the chance to heal, meaning food will never have tasted so good!
Making it one week smoke-free means quitters are over the worst of it. It’s perfectly normal to think about smoking regularly – it’s now a case of mind over matter as the body no longer physically craves tobacco. Many quitters experience a nasty cough, but this is perfectly normal as it is the lungs’ way of clearing themselves as much as they can.
Blood circulation, especially to the gums and teeth, returns to normal levels, the same as a non-smoker. Now that the mouth isn’t being bombarded with smoke, tissue damaged by gum disease can recover.
Withdrawals can range from anger, anxiety, insomnia and mild depression, but by month one these feelings should have subsided. If not, a trip to the GP is recommended. Quitters who make it to four weeks smoke-free are five times more likely to stay smoke-free for good. The risk of heart attack risk has started to drop. With lung function improving too, climbing the stairs gets that little bit easier each day.
Walking long distances is a lot easier now. Any bad coughs should have disappeared, but if not, being seen by a doctor is imperative as it can be a sign of something more sinister.
Any tiredness and shortness of breath will be a thing of the past. Cilia, air sacs in the lungs, have re-grown and healed some of the damage caused by smoking, but the lungs will never be 100% healthy.
Ex-smokers are 50% less likely to have a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke within just one year of quitting. Diabetes is an illness long-term smokers can develop. Make it five years smoke-free and the risks of it occurring are the same a non-smoker.
Five To 10 years
Amazing! The risk of having a stroke is now the same as that of a non-smoker. Smoke makes blood sticky and hard to move around the body and that’s why smokers are much more likely to have a stroke.
Lung cancer is the biggest risk to a smoker’s life. Within 10 years of quitting, the chance of death from lung cancer is half that of a smoker. The risk from other cancers such as mouth and pancreatic have reduced significantly.
When smoking, the heart works harder to pump smoke-ridden blood and this leads to increased risk of heart attacks and disease. After 10 years of being smoke-free, the risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker.