Good News About Quitting
The good news is that after you quit smoking, even in your 60s, 70s, or beyond:
- Your heart rate and blood pressure drop to more normal levels.
- Your nerve endings begin to regenerate, so you can smell and taste better.
- Your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will begin to function better.
- You will cough and feel out of breath less often.
- Your chance of having a heart attack or stroke will drop.
- Your breathing will improve.
- Your chance of getting cancer will be lower.
No matter how old you are, all these health benefits are important reasons to make a plan to stop smoking.
What Does Smoking Do To The Lungs
Smoking irritates lung tissue, causing mucus production in the lungs to increase and further inflaming the lungs. Cilia that are responsible for clearing mucus are paralyzed and destroyed by smoking. As a result, mucus builds up in the lungs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing.
If you have smoked for a long time, your lung tissue may have been inflamed so frequently that scarring develops. While minor scarring may not cause many problems, heavy scarring can result in thick, rigid lung tissue that makes the lungs work much harder. This can cause exhaustion, frequent shortness of breath, and a reduced ability to do cardiovascular exercises.
Moreover, smoking damages lung alveoli, which are small sacs found within the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. There are about 500 million alveoli in your body. Once destroyed, they do not regenerate. This means that if you have smoked to the point where too many alveoli are destroyed, you may still be at risk of developing pulmonary emphysema even if you quit.
Pulmonary emphysema is an incurable, serious condition characterized by coughing, excess sputum production, exhaustion, anxiety, sleep issues, substantial weight loss, and heart complications.
The Chemicals In Cigarettes
When you inhale tobacco, you actually inhale approximately 7,000 chemicals, including over 70 cancer-causing toxins. Some of these chemicals include:
- Nicotine is the addictive chemical in cigarettes. It prompts the heart rate to rise, increases blood pressure, and stimulates the release of dopamine, which is why you feel good when you smoke.
- Tar is the name for the solid particles in tobacco smoke. Tar is a sticky, brown substance that contains carcinogens, which are cancer-causing agents.
- Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odourless, and colourless gas that binds to red blood cells when it enters the body. It is transported through the bloodstream and reduces the amount of oxygen circulating through the body. Carbon monoxide is very slow to leave the body and can take up to a day to be cleared from your body.
- Metals and radioactive chemicals are also found in cigarettes. These include arsenic, nickel, cadmium , and beryllium .
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Your Lungs After Smoking
While you can’t necessarily undo the structural damage smoking causes to your lungs, your lung function can improve significantly once you remove cigarettes from the equation.
This is often the case for people with COPD who have stopped smoking. After several years without a cigarette, their rate of lung decline can resemble that of non-smokermeaning their rate of decline, when considered alongside their age, is no different from someone who has never smoked before.
Ideas To Help You Quit Smoking
We hope the above information has inspired you to give up smoking for good. If you have tried going cold turkey before only to return to smoking, you might wonder what its going to take this time. Here are three ideas to help you on your journey to a life free of nicotine addiction:
- Nicotine replacement therapy: Available as a patch, spray, inhaler, lozenge, or piece of gum, nicotine replacement therapy sends low levels of nicotine to your body as you wean yourself from cigarettes. The difference is that it doesnt contain any of the poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke.
- Increase amounts of Vitamin B and Vitamin C: Smokers typically have less of these vitamins present in their body than non-smokers. Vitamin B helps to guard against stress, which smokers cite as a major reason for turning to cigarettes in the first place. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects lungs from the stress of inhaling cigarette smoke. Increasing your Vitamin C intake while quitting smoking can be helpful.
- Track your smoking habits with an app: As your gear up to quit smoking, knowing what causes the urge to smoke is essential. You can find a range of free apps online or on your phone that allows you to track cues to pick up a cigarette and replace them with healthier habits.
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Do Lungs Stay Black After Quitting Smoking
It is no easy feat: quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things you could ever do. But now that you have made this decision, it is important to keep track of what happens to your lungs after you stop smoking.
If you are considering giving up smoking, but havent gotten to that point yet, this article is also for you.
It is essential to know what is really going on inside our bodies, whether we are actively smoking tobacco or not. Sometimes, fully knowing what is going on with our organs can help us make that decision to give up our bad habits, and, potentially, save our own lives.
If you quit smoking, you should expect some changes in your body.
The good news is that these changes usually go away within a year or two. However, if you have smoked for a long time, you might develop or have already developed some serious health problems.
Smoking causes damage to your lungs, heart, blood vessels, and other organs.
This damage leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , which can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. COPD affects more than 16 million people in the United States alone. It also increases your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
In this article, we are going to be looking at the different symptoms that can indicate whether your lungs are healthy or unhealthy, and what they mean for your own body.
Lets find out.
Nine Months After Quitting
Many ex-smokers feel a sudden letdown once they get beyond the three-month mark. Physical improvements taper off, while cigarette cravings persist .
This doesn’t mean that your health isn’t continuing to improve. In fact, the tiny, finger-like projections in your respiratory tract, called cilia, will have regrown during the first six to nine months, making it easier to clear debris and mucus from your lungs.
While this may actually increase coughing, it is a sign that your lungs are getting stronger and trying to heal themselves. As a result, you should start feeling more energized and be able to perform daily activities with less shortness of breath and fatigue.
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Lungs After Quitting Smoking
Anyone who smokes would do their lungs and body a huge favor by quitting as soon as possible. Smoking causes damage to the lungs, heart, and other body tissues. Your lungs after quitting smoking immediately start to heal and it only takes an average of 21 days without nicotine to shake the actual addiction. Once you hit that 21-day mark, the cravings will be gone and you will learn how to live without your smoking habit. This article outlines how your lungs and body heal after you quit smoking.
Avoid Toxins And Pollutants
Mould, dust, smoke, and chemicals can all further irritate your lungs and slow down the healing process. Keep an eye out for mould and dust within the home, and safely remove it if you do notice it.
Avoid spending time in areas where people are smoking, as secondhand smoke can worsen the damage to your lungs. Its also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather, paying particular attention to pollution and smoke reports. Refrain from spending too much time outside on especially hazy days.
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Will I Be Able To Breathe Easier After Quitting Smoking
Smoking reduces lung capacity and impacts the health of your lungs. However, if youre a younger smoker in your 20s and 30s you might not even notice the impact of smoking on your lung function unless you are taking part in physical activity.
It is only as you get older and your lung function naturally diminishes as well that you might start to feel the impact of smoking on your lung health.
However, no matter what age you are, when you quit smoking you are likely to be able to feel the benefits to your breathing. People that quit smoking lung capacity can improve by 10% in just 9 months.11 This might make the difference between being able to go for a jog or a kick about with your friends vs wheezing while walking up the stairs.10
What To Expect Within 12 Hours Of Your Last Cigarette
Everyone must start somewhere in their journey from smoking to non-smoking. If you feel discouraged, we urge you to consider this: Your heart rate returns to normal, your circulation improves, and your blood pressure drops between 20 and 60 minutes after smoking your last cigarette. When you reach half a day without smoking, your body automatically cleanses itself of the carbon monoxide present in cigarettes. This increases the oxygen levels in your body, which reduces your risk of suffocation due to oxygen deficiency.
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What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Smoking Cigarettes
Posted On: January 30, 2018
If you smoke, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of quitting. Some people continue to smoke because they feel they have already damaged their body. This is simply not true. Your body benefits in as little as one hour after putting out your last cigarette. The sooner you quit smoking, the greater long-term health benefits you will enjoy. Some of these include a reduced risk of asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Will Your Lungs Stay Black After Quitting Smoking
Yes, but not forever.
Just like most things in life, lung recovery doesnt happen overnight. Yes, once you stop smoking, your lungs will slowly return to normal, but it may take several months before you notice any noticeable difference, physically or visually.
During this period, your lungs will continue to be affected by the toxins in cigarette smoke, and theyll still contain some black discoloration.
However, as time passes, the amount of tar and other toxins in your system will decrease. Your lungs gradually return to their original pinkish-red color, but only if you completely quit smoking altogether.
It will take around three weeks for your lungs to heal fully, and another six to nine months for the remaining black spots to disappear. During this recovery phase, you might have trouble getting rid of mucus buildup in your throat. You could also experience coughs and sneezes that last longer than usual.
You will never get to see the exact color of your own lungs. This means you will never know what color they are while you smoke, and after you have quit smoking. You will only be able to feel the effects of quitting smoking, rather than visually witnessing your organs healing on the inside.
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Are There Other Benefits Of Quitting That Ill Notice Right Away
Kicking the tobacco habit offers some other rewards that youll notice right away and some that will show up over time.
Right away youll save the money you spent on tobacco. And here are just a few other benefits you may notice:
- Food tastes better.
- Your sense of smell returns to normal.
- Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
- Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
- Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath.
- You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.
Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco on how you look, including premature wrinkling of your skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, et al. 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United States . N Engl J Med. 2013 368:341-350.
Lu Q, Gottlieb E, Rounds S. Effects of cigarette smoke on pulmonary endothelial cells. Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. 2018 314: L743-L756.
Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification. Hypertension. 2003 41:183-187.
Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, et al. 21st century hazards of smoking and benefits of cessation in the United States . N Engl J Med. 2013 368:341-350.
How Smoking Impacts The Lungs
Smoking cigarettes exposes the lungs to the whole host of dangerous chemicals mentioned above. This can impact the lungs in a number of ways.
Irritation And Airflow
Before cigarette smoke reaches the lungs, it flows through the windpipe and past the voicebox, which can trigger swelling, irritation, a sore throat, and a cough. This can even cause your voice to change by altering its tone, quality, and pitch.
Smoking causes the airways to swell and narrow. This results in reduced airflow to the lungs. When tobacco is inhaled, the number of blood vessels and the amount of air space in the lungs decreases, which means less oxygen flows through the body.
Smoking And The Cilia
Cilia are the small, hairlike structures that line our airways. They rid our lungs of bacteria and toxins so that we can breathe easily. The chemicals in tobacco damage the cilia and limit their ability to effectively clear debris and pathogens from our lungs.
Cilia often regain some movement when you go several hours without a cigarette. This is why a smokers cough is usually worse in the morning. Overnight, the cilia are not exposed to cigarette smoke, so they begin to move again, working to clear out the toxins that have settled in the lungs the day before.
Damage To The Air Sacs
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Two Weeks After Quitting
After the first 72 hours, your peak withdrawal symptoms will start to decrease, although the cigarette cravings can still persist. In the days and weeks that follow, you should start breathing easier, your circulation will improve, and your cravings should ease.
Physical Benefits Of Quitting
Within 20 minutes of quitting, nicotine starts to leave your body and it begins to heal. Youll get some of these benefits right away. Quitting also improves your health in the years ahead and greatly reduces your risk of smoking related illness.
Its never too late to quitno matter your age or how long youve been smoking. But the earlier you quit, the better. Learn what quitting can do for your body.
Healthier Blood, Heart, and Lungs
- Youll breathe easier. Within two weeks of quitting, you might notice its easier to walk up the stairs because youre less short of breath.
- Your “smoker’s cough” starts to go away. You might cough more than usual when you first quit. But, this is a sign that the cilia in your lungs are growingtheyre one of the first things in your body to heal after you quit.
- Quitting can prevent permanent damage to your lungs. Scarring of the lungs is not reversible. But, if you do have lung disease quitting can prevent symptoms from getting worse.
- The oxygen in your blood rises to a normal level. This will make it easier for your heart to pump blood to important parts of your body.
- Your heart rate and blood pressure lower. This puts less stress on your heart and lowers your risk of heart disease, including heart attacks.
Changes You Can See
Fewer Fertility Problems and Pregnancy Risks
In the long run you can lower your chance of:
If you have been diagnosed with cancer it is not too late to benefit from quitting.
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Help Is Available To Quit
To find out all your options, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how they can help you quit, and call Quitline. Quitline is a free telephone support service. Quitline counsellors are trained to listen carefully and give you support suited to your needs. You dont have to do this alone. And willpower is not the only tool at your disposal you can buy nicotine patches, lozenges or gum and prescribed stop smoking tablets more cheaply with a script from your doctor.
Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you which stop smoking medication would suit you and how your usual medicines may need adjusting when you stop smoking.You can also go online at quit.org.au and create your own quit plan with easy-to-find information suited to you.
You can sign up for Quit Mail. Over 12 weeks Quit Mail will send you regular emails tracking your health and money gains, plus lots of tips to help you stay quit.
For more information see Quitting tips and Quitting methods.
Managing Stress When You Quit Smoking
It will take time to settle into new routines and find new ways to deal with stress now that smoking is not an option.
The stress-release you feel when you have a cigarette is only temporary. It doesnt solve your problems, it only shifts your focus and feeds the smoking stress-cycle.
Research tells us that people who smoke tend to have higher stress levels than non-smokers. Most people find that their stress levels are lower six months after quitting than they were before they quit.
One of the biggest challenges youll face when you quit is finding a new way to take me time at work, when you first get home, after dinner, and other times when you just need some time out.
You might find it helpful to create a special space for yourself to relax. Or you could try revisiting an old hobby or starting a new one.
for ideas on great time-out activities.
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