We’ve seen the advertisements, we’ve heard about the health warnings, but still there are plenty of people that smoke tobacco products. It’s estimated that one out of every five deaths each year (nearly half a million) come from smoking related illnesses. That makes smoking cigarettes the highest cause of death for a preventable disease, and it’s estimated that there are more than 36 million current smokers in the United States, which equates to just over 15 percent of citizens.
The good news, though, is that those numbers are down in the past decade when more than 20 percent of people in the U.S.A. were smoking cigarettes. While increasing prices have had an effect on the lowering of smokers in the country, people are still becoming more wise to the dangers that smoking brings. If you quit smoking, the benefits are felt within a matter of minutes and only get more numerous as time goes on. To show you why you should quit smoking, let’s take a look at what happens when you stop.
The First Day
The first 24 hours of quitting smoking can be the hardest as you adjust to a new lifestyle, and cravings can come in fast. Within just 20 minutes of your last cigarette, though, your body adjusts as your body temperature returns to normal and your heart rate and blood pressure drop back down to more normal levels. It can be the next 23 hours and 40 minutes that get a bit more difficult, however.
Within the first 24 hours, the amount of nicotine in your body drops by nearly 94 percent as you get rid of carbon monoxide and increase blood oxygen. The 24 hour mark brings the highest amount of cravings as you get a bit anxious. It can be tough to get through this part, but once you make it through, things start to get a bit easier. Some have found that chewing gum is something that helps them with oral cravings, and drinking water can also help.
Finishing the First Week
The next six days will be a bit easier than the first day, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park by any stretch. What does make it easier, though, is a better feeling that you get in terms of overall health. After two days, nerve endings that have been damaged start to regenerate and you’ll find that your sense of both smell and taste are coming back in a big way, which can be an enjoyable experience.
After three whole days, the nicotine has completely left your body, which could lead to withdrawals. Doctors suggest that during this point you get exercise to release endorphins and relieve these stressful symptoms. Another thing that makes exercise easier to get through is the fact that your respiratory system has become more relaxed without the cigarettes and you’ve increased your lung capacity.
One Month Later
Doctors estimate that after you’ve gone 10 days without smoking, your body no longer goes through the aggressive withdrawals, though you might experience the occasional (and very brief) craving. These should go away completely after two weeks, and your smile and overall oral health really start to improve. Your gums will be healthier, and it will show in your teeth and breath will be healthier overall.
Your lungs will continue to improve once you get past the two week mark, and your heart circulation also improves. It sounds a bit farfetched, but you reduce your chances of a heart attack down the road by a large amount in just two weeks of quitting. All aspects of your brain’s health also improve, with researchers finding that after three weeks you have improved circulation and a normal chemical balance.
More First Year Benefits
After the first couple of months, you might have noticed that your breathing has continued to improve (as well as your smell and taste) while you don’t have the dreaded “smoker’s cough” any longer. At this point, you’ve even reduced your chances of diabetes and a series of infections that could result from smoking. You might even notice that your eyes have gotten a bit sharper as you combat free radicals, allowing you to see better at night.
Some noticeable benefits that other people will be able to see appear in your skin. For those that had wrinkles at a young age and dried out skin appear to look younger as moisture returns and free radicals are kept at bay. That also helps your hair, and your overall appearance enhances as you can look several years younger within just one year by quitting cigarettes.
Longer Term Benefits
Now that the first year of quitting cigarettes is over, most of your organ function has completely returned to normal. Your chances of heart disease and stroke have dropped by more than 50 percent overall according to research. If you’re able to keep it up for five years total, your chances of a stroke aren’t any different than that of someone who’s never smoked in their life. The same can be said with diabetes.
While there is still a risk of lung cancer because of previous smoking, you experience a drop in chances by up to 50 percent than if you had kept smoking. Other cancers (such as those in the mouth and throat) have dropped by even more. Smoking could have led to tooth loss at some point, but you won’t experience as many lost teeth as people who never stopped smoking, while also outliving them by several years on average.
Other Interesting Benefits
Along the way in your journey to quit smoking, there are some other benefits that don’t quite get talked about as much. It’s been found that those who have been able to quit smoking improved their sleep cycle compared to those that didn’t. Part of the reason was the better circulation to the brain and the lack of breathing problems.
Many have also seen an increase in their social lives, even though smoking is seen as a bit of a social habit. A large study showed that people were able to go on more dates as a result of not smoking, and had an overall feeling of happiness compared to their smoking days. Of course, there’s the big benefit of saving money. It’s estimated that you can save an unbelievable $1,000 on a yearly basis, which you could use to go an a vacation, especially since you’ll be more productive at work.
Summing it Up
Quitting cigarettes cold turkey can be one of the hardest things that you’ll ever have to do, even if you know all of the benefits. The cravings that you get from the first couple of weeks can cause signs of depression and anxiety, hampering your overall mood. These are only temporary problems, though, and once you get through them, you’ll be happy that you did it. Other people also worry about possible weight gain when quitting smoking.
While studies have shown that former smokers gain an average of 10 pounds, they showed overall better health, more regulated insulin and better exercise performance. It’s better to have the extra 10 pounds than lungs that can barely function! There are plenty of support groups and avenues that can help you quit smoking, as the internet has made resources more readily available. If you’re thinking about quitting, there’s no better day than today to get started!