Every year around the world, the third Thursday in November is dedicated to quitting smoking. This is one of the strongest addictions that causes harm to the whole body. But our body is able to recover even after years of smoking – and faster than you think.
Why is it so difficult to quit smoking? It’s all about nicotine, which increases the level of dopamine — the pleasure hormone in the body. Therefore, people often turn to cigarettes as a quick and reliable way to improve their condition, relieve stress and relax. Also, with the help of cigarettes, smokers struggle with anxiety and boredom.
The cessation of regular nicotine intake causes withdrawal syndrome and increased cravings for food. The fear of changes and future difficulties makes you doubt yourself — is it worth trying to give up cigarettes at all? Experts confidently answer: it’s worth it, because the body starts the recovery processes after an hour. Together with Maxim Astrakhantsev, an oncologist at the European Clinic, we figured out in detail how our well-being and health change immediately after giving up cigarettes.
In an hour
Just 20 minutes after the last cigarette, the heart rate decreases and returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop, blood circulation improves.
After 12 hours
Cigarette smoke contains many toxins, including carbon monoxide. This substance can be dangerous or even fatal in large doses, as it makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the lungs and blood. After just 12 hours without cigarettes, the body is cleansed of the remnants of harmful gas, and the oxygen level in the blood increases.
You start to feel a little better, but not so much that the desire to smoke again disappears. It is ok. An acute desire to smoke a cigarette usually does not last long, only 5-10 minutes. At such moments, try to find ways to distract yourself until this feeling passes.
After 1 day
After just one day without cigarettes, the risk of a heart attack decreases. Why? Smoking contributes to the development of coronary heart disease due to a decrease in “good” cholesterol. In addition, after each cigarette smoked, blood pressure rises, which increases the risk of blood clots, which can cause a stroke. Just a day after quitting smoking, the pressure normalizes.
After 2 days
Smoking damages the nerve endings responsible for the sense of smell and taste. Two days after giving up cigarettes, you may notice that the perception of smells and taste sensations have become more vivid.
After 3 days
When inhaling tobacco smoke, nicotine enters the brain in seconds. The heart rate increases, the level of norepinephrine and dopamine increases, mood and concentration improves. If a person does not smoke for several hours, the level of these hormones drops, which causes a feeling of anxiety. This is the mechanism of nicotine addiction.
A few days after quitting smoking, the level of nicotine in the human body decreases. At first, when nicotine ceases to enter the body with tobacco smoke, the effect of withdrawal syndrome may occur from time to time. About the third day after quitting smoking, most people become irritable, severe headaches and increased appetite may occur. This is how your body adapts to a new life without surges of dopamine.
During this period, treat yourself to something delicious. By this time, your perception of tastes and smells has already sharpened, so you can fully enjoy your favorite dishes. Do not give up, always keep in mind the goal to give up a dangerous habit. Go to a movie or a restaurant where you can’t smoke. Enlist the support of friends or family who know what an important stage in your life you are going through.
Your body is busy with global cleansing at this time. The lungs get rid of mucus and other debris left over from cigarettes. You start breathing easier and getting more energy. If you have asthma, these days its symptoms may worsen. This may confuse you a bit. Remember that this is part of the process of rebuilding the body and it will all be over soon. Keep up to date with your attending physician, telling about your feelings and successes.
In a month
By this point, you have overcome the most difficult period. But the craving is most likely still there. A month after quitting smoking, your lungs feel much better. As they recover, the so-called smoker’s cough and shortness of breath disappear, and athletic endurance increases. Former smokers during this period may notice that cardio loads, such as running or jumping, are much easier to tolerate. Try to climb the stairs to your apartment or run along the escalator in the subway to see these changes.
After 3 months
Within three months after quitting smoking, women’s fertility increases and the risk of premature birth of a child decreases.
After 9 months
Delicate, hair-like structures in the lungs, known as cilia, recovered after cigarette smoke stopped falling on them. Cilia help to expel mucus from the lungs and fight infections. Around the same time, many former smokers notice that they have become less ill. They also note that they cough up much less mucus and sputum. This is due to the fact that the respiratory tract is much less likely to become inflamed without constant exposure to cigarette smoke and chemicals.
Psychological changes are also taking place: during this period, many people begin to cope better with stressful situations without feeling the need to smoke.
A year later
A year after quitting smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease is halved. And then it only continues to decline.
After 3 years
Your risk of having a heart attack has decreased to the level of non-smokers.
After 5 years
Cigarette smoke contains many toxins that cause narrowing of arteries and blood vessels. These same toxins increase the likelihood of blood clots. After five years without smoking, the body recovered sufficiently, and the arteries and blood vessels began to expand again, the blood is less prone to clotting, which, in turn, reduces the risk of stroke. The risk of stroke will decrease over the next 10 years as the body recovers more and more.
After 10 years
After 10 years without cigarettes, the chances of getting lung cancer and dying from it in a person who has quit smoking are about half as much as those who continue to do so. The likelihood of developing cancer of the oral cavity, throat or pancreas has significantly decreased.
After 15 years
After 15 years of quitting smoking, the probability of developing coronary heart disease and pancreatic cancer decreased to the level of non-smokers.
After 20 years
After 20 years, the risk of death from smoking-related causes, including lung diseases and cancer, drops to the level of a person who has never smoked in his life. You have more liquid blood (which reduces the risk of blood clots) and lower blood pressure. Your body has completely recovered and cleansed.