By now, we all know the risks of smoking tobacco. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any easier, even for those who truly desire to quit smoking. You might have the mentality that you've already been smoking for so long, that the damage has already been done. You might not see the point in quitting.
Even though you may still develop health problems years after you've quit smoking, there are still a lot of benefits of quitting, no matter how long you've been smoking. In fact, it's amazing how quickly your body gets better once you've quit smoking.
The immediate changes might not be noticeable to you at first, but in the long run, you'll be able to tell the difference in how you feel. Eventually, the thought of lighting up will start to get less and less appealing.
Our bodies are always trying to maintain a certain "stasis", which in this context, is the state of blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs that are in the normal range for a healthy human body. When you smoke, you're essentially throwing these things off by bringing toxins into your body.
As soon as you stop bringing toxins into your body, it can come back to this healthy vital state.
Here is a timeline of how your body gets better once you quit smoking, and it starts as soon as 20 minutes after you've finished your last cigarette...
After 20 minutes, your blood pressure, pulse and temperature of your hands and feet return to the normal range. You should start drinking plenty of water to help your body flush the nicotine from your system.
After 8 hours, the level of nicotine in your body has already reduced by almost 94%.
12 hours after your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood have dropped to normal, and your blood oxygen has come back to normal (as long as you don't have COPD).
24 hours after your last cigarette, your anxiety levels will be rising. Don't give up now! Within two weeks, they should drop back down to where you were before your last cigarette.
After 48 hours, damaged nerve endings are beginning to regrow. You'll notice your sense of smell and taste have considerably sharpened. You'll also notice how irritable you are, but congratulations for making it this far! Don't give up.
After just 72 hours, your blood will be 100% nicotine free. Your body has broken it down and passed it out of you through your urine. By this day, your cravings have peaked and will now begin to wane. Your lungs are also starting to come back to a healthier, functional state.
After a week, the average ex-smoker will experience three craving episodes per day. They only last around three minutes.
These cravings will go down to two a day around the 10-day mark.
Between two and four weeks after your last cigarette, you'll notice that irritability and other mental and emotional effects from quitting have nearly disappeared. If you're still experiencing a lot of negative feelings and thoughts throughout the day, contact your doctor.
After one month of being smoke-free, you'll notice you can breathe much easier, and you probably feel a lot better overall. Your circulation has improved, and chronic cough should be gone by now. If you're still coughing a lot at this point, let your doctor know, since this can be a sign of chronic bronchitis.
After one year, your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke have been cut in half.
After ten years, your risk of lung cancer has dropped to 30% to 50% of that of a smoker, and your risk of death from lung cancer has been cut in half. That means if you do still develop lung cancer, your the chance that you'll survive it has doubled. Your risk of diabetes and other cancers have also considerably dropped.
So you can see, the sooner you quit, the better! However, later is still better than never. If you're trying to quit and need more assistance, talk to your doctor, or contact a smoking cessation hotline. Good luck in quitting!