Tuesday, 1st October, 2019

What happens when you quit smoking?

Did you know that quitting smoking for 28 days this Stoptober means you are five times more likely to quit permanently? But what actually happens when you quit smoking? Let’s go through some of the benefits to your health of stopping smoking.

In the initial days of quitting, you should start to experience some of the benefits fairly quickly! Some of the chemicals in a cigarette speed up your heart rate (and also raise your blood pressure). After just 20 minutes of stopping, your heart rate will already start to drop down to normal.

Around 8 hours after stopping, the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your body will drop down to less than half, and the amount of oxygen will come back up to normal levels. The nicotine and carbon monoxide will have left your body after 48 hours, preventing harm to your body cells and improving your ability to smell and taste, as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the toxins in cigarettes. You should also be able to breathe more easily and cough less after 72 hours of stopping.

As your circulation improves after 2 to 12 weeks, you’ll find that you have more energy which will make physical activity such as walking or exercise much easier. This will also help to boost your immune system, improving your body’s ability to fight off infections. Believe it or not, quitting smoking can help to improve your sex life and fertility! The improved blood flow means higher sensitivity, so men may get better erections and women may find their orgasms improve. The chances of getting pregnant are higher as quitting smoking makes the lining of the womb healthier and can make men’s sperm more potent. More importantly, there’s a higher chance of giving birth to a healthy baby.

The chemicals contained in cigarettes can speed up the process of skin ageing. When you stop smoking, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your skin improves, reducing the chances of premature facial ageing and the appearance of wrinkles. As cigarettes contain tobacco, quitting will stop your teeth from becoming stained, and you’ll also have fresher breath and a lower risk of getting gum disease.

Going smoke-free adds years to your life by reducing your risk of heart disease, lung damage and other health problems. The reduction in heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels, and improved blood flow and cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart attack or stroke. Once you quit smoking, any further damage to the lungs will stop so it’s important to quit before you do any permanent damage to the lungs. You will also have a reduced risk of developing cancer and your immune system, muscles and bones will become stronger after quitting.

Smoking around your family or friends can also increase their risk of health problems by breathing in secondhand smoke, so by quitting smoking you are not just protecting yourself but your loved ones too.

Quitting smoking can feel daunting at first, but there’s plenty of support and resources available, so you don’t have to go through it alone. Check out NHS Live Well and Smokefree for more advice and information.