What happens to your body when you stop smoking?
The health benefits of quitting smoking are pretty well-known. In fact, most people are aware that giving up the deadly habit is by far the single most beneficial thing you can do for your health if you’re a smoker. But what happens to your body when you stop smoking?
While it’s common knowledge that your chances of developing certain cancers are seriously reduced, there are a number of lesser-known benefits that come when you manage to kick cigarettes into touch.
These benefits are wide ranging and can impact everything from your energy levels, appearance and both physical and mental health, so to help give you the extra push you need to finally leave cigarettes in the rear-view mirror, here’s what happens to your body when you stop smoking.
Benefits of quitting smoking
We’re all aware that smoking causes cancer and other cardiovascular diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), so it stands to reason that quitting will reduce the risk of developing these grave health conditions.
Smoking also increases your heart rate and causes the arteries to tighten, making the heart work harder and raising blood pressure, which is why smoking increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
When you quit smoking, over time your lungs start to repair themselves, your arteries open up allowing oxygen to pass through your cardiovascular system more efficiently and everything from your skin, breath and even your energy levels will start to improve. Levels of depression and anxiety are also lower among those who manage to quit.
In fact, if you pack in cigarettes early enough then much (if not all) of the damage can actually be reversed. Obviously this depends largely on your age and the amount you smoke, but regardless of how old you are, quitting smoking is always a positive health choice.
Other “lesser-known” dangers of smoking
Most of us know the more common dangers of smoking, but what many of us are unaware of is that smoking can increase your risk of developing a number of lesser-known health complications. These include the following:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Hip fractures
- Colorectal cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cleft lip and cleft palate in babies
Many people aren’t aware that smoking causes an increased risk in these health issues. If you’re a smoker then perhaps it’s time to quit as continually running the gauntlet and putting yourself at risk of so many potential health complications just isn’t worth it, especially when there are much less harmful alternatives out there (more on that later).
What happens to your body when you quit smoking timeline
To give you an idea of what happens to your body when you stop smoking, as well as how long you’ll need to go smoke-free before you can start to feel these benefits, here’s a helpful timeline:
- 0-6 hours – Heart rate slows and blood pressure becomes more stable.
- Within 24 hours – The level of carbon monoxide in the blood has dropped and oxygen will be passing through your system more freely.
- Within one week – You should start to notice an improvement in taste and smell.
- Within three months – Coughing and wheezing should have reduced significantly by now. Your immune system will also be functioning better, and the circulation in your hands and feet will have improved.
- Within six months – Your lungs will be much better at removing phlegm and dust. You should also be less stressed which is always a bonus!
- After 12 months – With healthier lungs your breathing will now be much improved.
- 2 – 5 years – Your risk of heart disease will be significantly reduced by now. This will only continue to drop with time. A woman’s excess risk of cervical cancer is also completely eliminated.
- After 10 years – Risk of lung cancer is now reduced.
- After 15 years – Any excess risk of heart attack and stroke is all but eliminated.
Quitting smoking: negative short-term symptoms and how to improve them
Although the long-term effects of quitting smoking are nothing but positive, in the early stages nicotine withdrawal can pose somewhat of a challenge. In fact, these short-term side-effects are responsible for the vast majority of failed quit attempts.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect as soon as you quit smoking, along with some info on how you can remain resilient:
In the first few days and maybe even weeks, you may feel a sense of restlessness which could affect your ability to concentrate. This can also affect your sleep.
Although this can be frustrating, try not to worry as over time this feeling will pass. Once your body is used to not smoking, your levels of concentration and sleep will return to normal.
Taking deep breaths and trying to remain relaxed can help you overcome bouts of restlessness. Also, try to reduce your intake of caffeine as your body absorbs double the amount when you quit smoking, so you might get more than you bargained for with that strong cup of coffee or energy drink!
As if quitting wasn’t hard enough, when you put down the cigarettes you might suddenly start to feel your stress levels increase, which can make giving up all the more difficult.
If you experience heightened levels of stress, try not to despair as this is completely normal. Along with feelings of anxiety, depression and irritability, you might start to feel your stress levels creeping up, but just like the other short-term symptoms, this should start to subside as time passes.
Exercise is a known stress-buster, so if you’re feeling agitated then a good workout is a great way to let off some steam.
Increased appetite/weight gain
This might not always occur, but it’s not uncommon for those quitting to suddenly experience an increase in appetite. As the body experiences withdrawal from one thing, it might try to replace it with another.
If you do experience unwanted weight gain, while it might not be ideal, try to look on the bright side – a few extra pounds will be much easier to shift than a life-threatening, smoking-related illness!
Perhaps the most expected of side-effects, if you quit smoking then naturally you’ll start to feel withdrawals due to the absence of nicotine in your system. Initially, these cravings may be intense, which is why so many people cave in. However, if you manage to resist these early cravings, over time they’ll get less powerful making it easier to stick to your gums and quit for good.
To reduce cravings, there are a number of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products on the market. By far the most effective one is an e-cigarette.
How can e-cigarettes help you quit smoking?
Research has shown that vaping is far and away the most effective NRT. In fact, one study found that those who quit smoking with an e-cigarette were twice as likely to make a successful quit attempt.
In the UK, millions have already used a vape device to stop smoking cigarettes. Although e-cigs aren’t risk-free, a landmark study carried out by Public Health England (PHE) established vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, making it a much less harmful alternative and a great tool for those struggling to quit on their own.
If you’re ready to finally turn your back on smoking, there are a range of starter kits designed for those who are just making the transition. These kits are easy to use and maintain, and their mouth-to-lung (MTL) action means they mimic the feeling of smoking to provide an experience you’re familiar with.
If you’re a beginner in search of a suitable device then look no further than the king of starter kits, Innokin. This brand has perfected these user-friendly kits, and they have a range of options available. Arguably the best one on the market at the moment is the Innokin Endura T18II, which is stylish, durable and easy to use. It also has adjustable airflow and temperature control, allowing you to customise your vaping experience to achieve your ideal vape.
Hopefully you now have a good understanding of how your body changes when you quit smoking and you’ll no longer be wondering what happens to your body when you stop smoking. For some more information on vaping, check out our Getting Started guide where you’ll find everything you need to begin your vaping journey.