Everybody knows that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking kills, but even so, thousands of people can’t or don’t want to quit. Most people use the excuse that the negative side effects of quitting outweigh the benefits.
In this article, I will attempt to explain the benefits and the side effects that result when you stop smoking and refute the myths that you hear all the time. So if you’re thinking about quitting, you can learn more about the advantages and the inconveniences that you’ll experience.
The benefits of quitting smoking
When you stop smoking, many changes will occur in your body, and your health will begin to improve within minutes of quitting. These benefits increase with each year that you go without smoking.
- Minutes after you quit, your blood pressure and heart rate will decrease, which increases blood flow and improves circulation.
- Approximately 8 hours after you quit, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood decreases, and the level of oxygen returns to normal.
- In the first 24-48 hours without smoking, your senses of smell and taste start to go back to normal. Bad breath caused by smoking disappears, as do the yellowish stains on the fingers.
- After 2-3 weeks, circulation improves and walking is easier because lung function improves by about 5%. Physical withdrawal symptoms start to disappear, and you can go hours without thinking about smoking.
- After 1-9 months, symptoms like coughing, nasal congestion, fatigue, and difficulty breathing improve. Also, colds and asthma attacks occur less often.
- One year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is half of that of someone who still smokes.
- After 5 years without smoking, the risk of suffering from mouth, throat, esophageal, cervical, and bladder cancer decreases by half. After 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is almost half of that of smokers.
- The skin also improves because the aging process slows down. Sperm count increases, and recovery after operations takes less time thanks to the improvement in blood circulation and oxygenation of the tissues.
On top of all these health benefits, there are also economic benefits, both due to the money you save from not buying cigarettes, as well as the money you save on medication and other secondary expenses related to your health.
Negative side effects of quitting
Nevertheless, like any drug, there are also secondary effects and withdrawal symptoms related to quitting, both physical and psychological, that make the process unpleasant. Let’s explore them.
An increase in anxiety is one of the symptoms that causes the most worry. Smokers tend to say that smoking relaxes them, but this actually isn’t true, because the main substance found in cigarettes is nicotine, which is a stimulant.
So why is smoking relaxing? Because smoking involves deep breathing similar to the kind used in different relaxation techniques. So if you don’t want to feel anxious, practice relaxation techniques after you quit.
Another side effect is the fear of weight gain. Quitting smoking doesn’t necessarily involve gaining weight. People tend to gain weight for three reasons: because they feel anxiety, which can be solved by using breathing techniques; because they tend to smoke after every meal, so when they quit they eat more because they haven’t established another after-meal habit; or because the metabolism slows down upon the absence of the stimulant nicotine.
A simple diet that establishes a clear end to meals and limits the quantity of food consumed will prevent you both from gaining weight and going hungry.
The third side effect is related to changes in mood. Mood swings and irritability are very common in the quitting process. These symptoms are temporary, and are only present for a maximum of 3 months after quitting.
Relaxation techniques and exercise can help you destress. Also, communication and problem-solving strategies are central to avoiding arguments when you’re feeling irritable.
The fourth effect involves a series of physical symptoms. These include constipation, nausea, coughing, and headaches. These symptoms are temporary and manifest mostly in the first month. They occur because the body is cleansing itself of the toxins introduced by smoking.
Coughing and nausea tend to occur in the morning and are a part of the cleansing of the respiratory system. Constipation and headaches occur because digestive function decreases as the metabolism slows down and blood flow and brain oxygen levels increase.
If you think about it, the benefits of quitting outweigh the negative side effects, which are temporary and even avoidable with a proper diet and psychological techniques like deep breathing, problem solving, and social skills techniques. So don’t wait any longer, your health is at risk!
The content in this publication is presented for informative purposes only. In no sense is this information intended to provide diagnoses or act as a substitute for the work of a qualified professional. For this we recommend that you contact a reliable specialist.