What Happens When You Quit Smoking
If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who still smoke, you’ve probably heard all the ways the habit can damage your body. Tobacco use is still the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country. In 1977 the American Cancer Society began to sponsor the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of every November to encourage Americans to quit.
So to celebrate the Great American Smokeout today, Cohen Medical Associates’ primary care doctors in Delray Beach, Florida, thought we’d focus instead on all the benefits that come with quitting smoking. We think you’ll be surprised at how quickly your body recovers from the damage of smoking when you give it a fighting chance.
Here’s a timeline of the benefits of quitting smoking from the American Cancer Society:
- 20 minutes after quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
- 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures (called cilia) that move mucus out of the lungs start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- 1 year after quitting the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
- 5 years after quitting your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker in 2 to 5 years.
- 10 years after quitting your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years after quitting your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from a smoking-related disease by about 90 percent, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
In addition to the longer-term benefits, there are things you’ll notice right away when you quit smoking:
- You’ll save a lot of money.
- Food will taste better.
- Your sense of smell returns to normal.
- You’ll smell better: breath, hair, and clothes.
- Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
- Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath.
- You won’t have to go outside to smoke.
Here is a list of further benefits of quitting from Smokefree.gov:
Quitting smoking will help clear up blemishes, and prevent premature wrinkling and aging.
Not only will you have more breath for a healthy sexual life, but will lower your chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction. In addition, you lower your risk for infertility if you’re hoping to get pregnant, and also decrease the risk of having a low birth weight baby.
Quitting smoking will reduce your belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, quitting can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Not only will your immune system be strengthened, helping you better avoid colds and flu, but wounds will repair more rapidly.
Muscles and bones will become stronger, helping you avoid injuries including fractures.
Sometimes people are more easily motivated toward something rather than away from something. Overall, quitting smoking can help you achieve a longer, healthier life. If these benefits have spurred you to quit smoking, there are many ways we can help. Besides the over-the-counter (OTC) products available, there are both prescription nicotine replacements and non-nicotine medications that have been proven effective in reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. So if you need help to quit, contact us.