Smoking can wreak havoc on the body, both short and long-term. Fortunately, may of these negative side effects can be diminished, if not totally eradicated, once you quit. You may see benefits almost immediately, while others you’ll notice gradually over time.
Smoking is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths, but just the idea of quitting can still seem intimidating. If you’re concerned about seeing fast results, don’t worry – the benefits of quitting can be seen as quickly as 20 minutes after your last cigarette.
Here is a timeline of what to expect if you decided to quit.
1 Week After Quitting
Within 20 minutes of having your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure will return to their normal levels. Around day 3, as the nicotine disappears completely, you may find yourself experiencing nicotine withdrawal. Symptoms include a headache, low mood, and cravings.
Within the first 7 days, the oxygen levels in your blood will return to normal as the nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood disappear.
You may find yourself coughing up debris and mucus more than usual after giving up smoking – this is your lungs clearing themselves out. Your senses of taste and smell will improve as the nerves responsible for these senses begin to heal. Breathing will be easier, and you may notice a boost in your energy levels.
3 Months After Quitting
Your lung function can improve by up to 10%, meaning your breathing will feel easier and less strained. Your circulation will improve, and energy levels will continue to rise.
You’ll find exercise easier, along with normal everyday cardiovascular activities such as climbing the stairs or walking the dog.
1 Year After Quitting
Your risk of heart disease will be half that of a person who still smokes.
You may experience less lung-related illnesses because the cilia within the lungs will be fully healed and are therefore more resilient to infections.
10+ Years After Quitting
Your chances of lung cancer will be half that of someone who still smokes, while your chances of mouth, throat, cervix, bladder and pancreatic cancer will have decreased significantly.
Your risk of a heart attack will be the same as that of a none-smoker. Blood vessels and arteries will go back to their normal sizes – this means you are less likely to have a clot which could lead to a stroke. As your body continues to heal from the damage smoking has caused, your risk of smoking-related death will continue to decrease until it matches that of a none-smoker.
Every passing year in which you don’t smoke leads to improved health and healing within the body. However, smoking can lead to conditions that may never fully heal (like COPD, aka chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This causes scarring in the walls of the airway that can not be reversed.
It’s important to quit smoking as soon as possible to avoid any negative lifelong conditions or diseases caused by smoking.