Friday, May 18, 2007

How to Quit Smoking and Quit for Keeps

How to Quit Smoking and Quit for Keeps

What Happens After You Quit Smoking

Immediate Rewards

Within 12 hours after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke.

Within a few days you will probably begin to notice some remarkable changes in your body. Your sense of smell and taste may improve. You will breathe easier, and your smoker's hack will begin to disappear, although you may notice that you will continue to cough for a while. And you will be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense, and dependence of cigarette smoking.

Immediate Effects

As your body begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may feel worse for a while. It's important to understand that healing is a process; it begins immediately, but it continues over time. These "withdrawal pangs" are really symptoms of the recovery process.

Immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience "symptoms of recovery" such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention, irregularity, and dry, sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry, more tired, and more short-tempered than usual and have trouble sleeping and notice that you are coughing a lot. These symptoms are the result of your body clearing itself of nicotine, a powerful addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in 2-3 days.

Long-range Benefits

It is important to understand that the long range after-effects of quitting are only temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Now that you've quit, you've added a number of healthy productive days to each year of your life. Most important, you've greatly improved your chances for a longer life. You have significantly reduced your risk of death from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and several kinds of cancer; not just lung cancer. (Cigarette smoking is responsible every year for approximately 130,000 deaths from cancer, 170,000 deaths from heart disease, and 50,000 deaths from lung disease.)

Have your last cigarette and

  • In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
  • In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your blood stream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
  • In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
  • In 72 hours your bronchial tubes will relax, and your energy levels will increase.
  • In 2 weeks your circulation will increase, and it will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks.
  • In three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
  • In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.
  • In 5 years your risk of having a stroke returns to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 10 years your risk of lung cancer will have returned to that of a non-smoker.
  • In 15 years your risk of heart attack will have returned to that of a non-smoker.


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