What to Expect When you Quit Smoking (Timeline)

According to the NHS, smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. Smoking cigarettes wreaks havoc on the body, affecting your circulation, heart, brain, lungs, teeth, mouth and throat, and even your fertility.

Smoking causes tar to gather in the lungs, releasing poisons into your bloodstream which cause a whole host of health issues, including an increased chance of blood clot formation. Due to the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke and nicotine, your organs are starved of vital oxygen rich blood, which can cause your arteries to narrow and increase your risk of a stroke and heart disease.

Many smokers are left skeptical and unconvinced by the various stop smoking campaigns out there, and many claim that they simply ‘like smoking’. There is a common misconception amongst smokers that there is no hope, their bodies have gone too far, so why bother? The good news is that the human body is an incredible machine, and just minutes after your last cigarette, it starts to heal itself.

The studies into the positive effects of vaping compared with smoking are ongoing, but the general consensus is that people who vape have significantly lower the levels of toxins than those who continue to smoke regular cigarettes.

Here’s a timeline of just some of the positive effects quitting smoking can have on the body:

20 minutes

Blood pressure and pulse rate begin to drop down back to a normal level

8 hours

Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide, a toxic substance that restricts the flow of oxygen in the blood. This leads to low energy and poorer circulation; that’s why smokers often complain of cold hands or feet.

E-cigarettes do not contain monoxide, therefore the health risks associated are greatly reduced. Removing the inhalation of cigarette smoke allows the body to process the carbon monoxide present in your blood. Once this process begins, the oxygen levels in your blood begin to return to normal.

24 hours

Smoking increases the risk of a heart attack, coronary heart disease and COPD. Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, causing your heart to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.

E-cigarettes do not affect your blood oxygen levels, and after just 24 hours of exclusive vaping, you will have significantly decreased the smoking-associated risks to your heart health.

48 hours

There have been numerous studies and tests conducted on the effects that smoking has on taste and smell receptors. One study revealed that heavy smokers, of 20 or more cigarettes a day, reported a significant increase in impairment on both senses.

After just 48 hours of being smoke-free, your taste and smell receptors will have started to heal and regenerate, and you will notice your meals are starting to taste good again!

72 hours – nicotine free

At the three-day mark, your body starts to heal itself considerably; your bronchial tubes will begin to relax and restore, and your breathing will become easier as your lung’s functional abilities improve. However, many people experience mood swings, irritability, headaches and cravings as the body readjusts.

2 – 3 weeks

After over a fortnight of being smoke-free, your lung function and your circulation will have greatly improved. This means that you’ll be less likely to feel out of breath, particularly when exercising. At this stage of your quitting journey, oxygen is now travelling around your bloodstream and respiratory system efficiently, allowing your body to function optimally. Exercise is also a great way to control the weight gain that can happen when quitting smoking.

1 – 3 months

After one month of quitting smoking, you will notice a whole host of health improvements. From your skin and hair health, to your athletic endurance. You will also see huge improvements in any Coughs or wheezing as your lung function will have increased by up to 10%.

For the next several months after quitting, your circulation will continue to improve.

6 – 9 months

After 6 months of quitting smoking, any related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath will have decreased, and perhaps disappeared. Your respiratory system will be functioning at an optimal level, increasing your body’s ability to clear dirt and mucus out of your lungs.

1 – 15 years

After 1 year, the smoking associated risks to your health will have reduced by half, and after stopping smoking for 15 years, your risk of developing any associated diseases are similar to that of someone who has never smoked.

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