What Happens When You Quit Smoking
With tobacco smoking claiming over 5 million deaths every year on a global scale, it should not be taken as a surprise then that smoking is considered to be the world’s primary cause of deaths that could have been prevented; because of course, smoking is a habit one can stop. Cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you name it. Smoking can freely and effortlessly provide it. Now if you are concerned with the people surrounding you, do quit smoking since secondhand smoke, the smoke involuntarily breathes in by others from those who do, can cause serious implications such as heart attacks; with pregnant women and young children being the most vulnerable. It also contains toxic chemicals that are carcinogenic.
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Now, if you want to learn what happens when you quit smoking, try quitting first. Seriously though, while you know how dangerous and damaging this habit considered by many as a vice is, to quit smoking may appear easier said than done, and oftentimes, even daunting. But it’s always going to get harder before it gets better, right? Basically, it needs strong willpower. After all, smoking is a form of an addiction, which means, one can relapse. But fully knowing how worthwhile this endeavor will be could and should drive you more to quit smoking. Yes, it will take time. But your health is at stake here in the long run. In this article, we will discuss what happens when you quit smoking, along with a specific timeline describing each stage of physiological changes the moment you quit smoking.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking
Physical and Psychological Withdrawal
The stage of withdrawal can get nasty enough it might make you abandon your goal to quit smoking. So what happens when you quit smoking physically? You may experience a headache that is likely brought by stress, nausea or the sensation of imminent vomiting, a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure which can cause dizziness, an increase in appetite or hunger, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and coughing. How about in the psychological aspect? This could include irritability, reduced attention span, frustration, tension, anger, psychomotor agitation like shaking, nervousness, mood swings, and even depression. When you crave, your brain is telling you to ingest the addictive nicotine to prevent these experiences. And even though it usually takes weeks to months before all of these discomforting sensations subside, in the end, you’ll learn that to quit smoking is all going to be worth it since this is your body just cleansing itself.
Cardiovascular System Improves
Heart disease claims one for every 5 smoking-related deaths. In fact, smoking can make you 2 times more likely to acquire heart disease than those who don’t. What’s more? The risk for stroke is also doubled. So when you quit, a more heartening effect can take place. Really, what happens when you quit smoking in terms of your cardiovascular system? 1) Since nicotine causes your blood pressure and heart rate to rise instantly and on a long-term basis, quitting then will improve your blood circulation and heart rate even within hours after doing so. You will feel your toes and fingers warming up in the process. 2) The risk also of getting a heart attack and other heart diseases increasingly drops as years pass by after you quit. The oxygen level in your blood that reaches the various body tissues will upsurge as the carbon monoxide brought by cigarettes falls. 3) Lastly, because quitting expands the blood vessels back to its normal size, the risk of getting stroke will also diminish. The full recovery may take up to 15 years, depending on how long you had this habit.
Physical Appearance Enhances
No one can deny that smokers do look older. Your nails will be stained yellow, you will lose more hair than usual, your skin will look discolored and dry, your ability to taste and the smell will also be affected, and guess what ladies, your breasts will look saggy. So exactly what happens to your physical appearance when you quit smoking? First, you need to know that cigarettes can stain the fingernails with the tar and nicotine it contains. Thus, it would be like giving yourself a natural manicure when you quit. Second, smoke brings toxins which can damage hair follicles, causing dryness and oil imbalance, and speeding up graying, hair loss and even balding. Naturally then, to quit smoking means to bring vigor and beauty back to your hair. Third, you will eventually recover your sense to taste and smell, perhaps realizing how unpleasant the smell of smoking is. Lastly, for the ladies, your breasts will look better as it retains its tone and elasticity. Your skin will also glow overall.
Your Overall System Mends
While you may find it upsetting at first, coughing a little bit more than usual is still normal. This is because your lungs are doing the best they can to get themselves rid of all the toxins smoking had brought. You will likely experience this for months (though it decreases over time), so better make some adjustments to your lifestyle by avoiding too much dairy and pollution as much as possible. And as stated, you will likewise improve your breathing following that. The hair-like structures in the airways inside the nose called cilia will recover after being paralyzed by smoke. Weight gain is moreover one of the effects. This is because you are more likely to eat more instead of putting cigarettes in your mouth, with foods becoming increasingly enticing due to your improved senses, and because of your metabolic rate declines once you quit smoking. Perhaps the most notable effect is your improved immune system. You see, smoking does not only increase your susceptibility to various infections by weakening the immune system, it also makes the illnesses more severe and long-lasting. Even antioxidants like vitamin C will find it hard to be effective.
Now that we have seen what happens when you quit smoking on the bigger scale, let us discuss the specific timeline that your body will undergo for making the best decision.
Timeline of What Happens When You Quit Smoking
The First 12 Hours
For about 20 minutes up to an hour, your body will instantly experience a difference after the effect of the last cigarette you took. As discussed in the item number 2, your heart rate, along with your blood pressure and circulation will gradually return to its normal functioning. All throughout the 12-hour duration, your body will also purify itself from the excessive carbon monoxide brought by the cigarettes. The oxygen, on one hand, will surge as the level of both gases normalize.
The First 24 Hours
The withdrawal symptoms well up. You will feel stressed which is not really the typical stress we all experience but more of like a result of craving. Anxiety may also peak with it. On the good side, the risk of getting a heart attack and stroke and other chronic or coronary heart diseases start to reduce. This will also make it easier for you to exercise and be engaged in various physical activities more often.
After 2 to 3 Days
In just as little as 2 days following your decision to quit smoking, your senses—particular the sense of taste and smell—will become more vivid. This is because your nerve endings damaged by smoking will start its healing process. Then, by day 3, the level of nicotine in your body will be depleted. This will lead to more cravings and withdrawals such as moodiness and irritability, along with physical ones like headaches. Take this as a sign of your body making its adjustments.
After 1 to 3 Months
Your respiratory system enhances as the lungs recover. This also means less coughing and shortness of breathing. This too is a good chance to renew physical exercise particularly those good for your cardiovascular like jogging or running. You may find it difficult, however, to manage your psychological withdrawals. Anger, insomnia, anxiety, and even mild depression may render you for a general practice consultation. Usually, though, these feelings should have diminished.
After 6 to 9 Months
Your breathing will drastically improve as cilia, stated in item number 4, will almost fully recuperate. Fatigue will also be gone. Nine months after you quick smoking, your lungs will considerably get well. This will mean decreased respiratory infections as the lungs help fight possible diseases via the cilia found within it that pushed mucus out of the lungs.
After 1 to 5 Years
The risk of acquiring coronary heart disease will all the more decrease for the succeeding years once it is reduced to half after a year of being free from smoking. Your blood vessels will also progressively widen during the 5-year period. Thus, developing blood clots seems to be out of the discussion already as the body heals itself just well enough. The risk of having a stroke will similarly decline. Surprisingly, even diabetes that is common to long-term smokers can be trim down.
10 Years and Beyond
What happens when you quit smoking after 10 years and more? The risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases, together with stroke, is fully leveled with those who do not smoke. Which means it will be brought down significantly. What is more important though is the decreased chance of having lung cancer, which happens to be the smoker’s biggest risk, obviously. The risk for lung cancer and with all other cancers is all decreased in half. Knowing now what happens when you quit smoking will likely push you more to quit the damaging habit. You need to bear in mind that the sooner you quit smoking, the less punitive all these side effects shall be. Therefore, better start the journey sooner than later or if you can just quit the bad habit now.