Lent is on the horizon so it’s time to quit those cigarettes forever and become the new you! If only it was that easy. Smoking is so addictive that we need many reasons and tools to transition between smoking and non-smoking. We all know smoking is bad for your health, but exactly how will stopping make your life better? Here are 10 ways your health will improve when you stop smoking. Maybe one will ring a bell with you –
The quitting timeline
- After 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.
- After 24 hours your lungs start to clear.
- After two days your body is nicotine-free and your sense of taste and smell improve.
- After three days you can breathe more easily, and your energy increases.
- After two to 12 weeks, your circulation improves.
- After three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing improves.
- After one year your heart attack risk is half that of a smoker.
- After 10 years your lung cancer risk is half that of a smoker.
Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily
People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months. In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when you go for a walk or climb the stairs.
Stopping smoking gives you more energy
Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier. You will also give a boost to your immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu. The increase in oxygen in the body can also reduce tiredness and the likelihood of headaches.
Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed
The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes can heighten feelings of stress. As the stress of withdrawal feels the same as other stresses, it’s easy to confuse normal stress with nicotine withdrawal. So, it can seem like smoking is reducing other stresses whereas this is not the case. In fact, scientific studies show people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. If you’re finding that you are prone to stress, then replacing smoking with a healthier, better way of dealing with stress can give you some real benefits.
Quitting leads to better sex
Stopping smoking improves the body’s blood flow so improves sensitivity. Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily. It’s also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealing to prospective partners than smokers.
Stopping smoking improves fertility
Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent. Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF, and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage.
Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Stopping smoking improves smell and taste
When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste get a boost. You may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Stop smoking for younger-looking skin
Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have.
Ex-smokers have whiter teeth and sweeter breath
Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you’ll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are also less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.
Quit smoking to live longer
Half of all long-term smokers, die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life. In other words, it’s never too late to benefit from stopping. Being smoke-free not only adds years to your life, but also greatly improves your chances of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.
A smoke-free homes protects your loved ones
By stopping smoking, you’ll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family, too. Breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma. They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.
If you want to stop smoking, several different treatments are available now.
The main options are:
The best treatment for you will depend on your personal preference, your age, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and any medical conditions you have.
Research has shown that all these methods can be effective. Importantly, evidence shows that they are most effective if used alongside support from a stop smoking service.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
The main reason that people smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine. NRT is a medication that provides you with a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke. It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking.
NRT – in pharmacy
NRT is available as:
- skin patches
- chewing gum
- inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
- tablets, oral strips and lozenges
- nasal and mouth spray
Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for alleviating cravings. There’s no evidence that any single type of NRT is more effective than another. But there is good evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more effective than using a single product. Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray. Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.
Who can use it
Most people are able to use NRT, including:
- adults and children over 18 years of age –
- pregnant women – your doctor may suggest NRT if they think it would help you quit;
- breastfeeding women – your doctor can advise you how to do this safely
Call into Grant’s Pharmacy for expert advice from the staff on all the NRT options available for you.
Possible side effects
Side effects of NRT can include:
- skin irritation when using patches
- irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams
- an upset stomach
Any side effects are usually mild. But if they’re particularly troublesome, contact your GP/Pharmacist as the dose or type of NRT may need to be changed.
Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medication that works in two ways. It reduces cravings for nicotine like NRT, but it also blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking. Evidence suggests it’s the most effective medication for helping people stop smoking. Varenicline is only available on prescription, so you’ll need to see your GP.
It’s taken as one to two tablets a day. You should start taking it a week or two before you try to quit. A course of treatment usually lasts around 12 weeks, but it can be continued for longer if necessary. Varenicline is safe for most people to take, although there are some situations when it’s not recommended. Speak to your Pharmacist in Grant’s Pharmacy to check if this medication is appropriate for you.
Bupropion (brand name Zyban) is a medication originally used to treat depression, but it has since been found to help people quit smoking. It’s not clear exactly how it works, but it’s thought to have an effect on the parts of the brain involved in addictive behaviour. Like Champix, Zyban is only available on prescription, so you’ll usually need to see your GP.
It’s taken as one to two tablets a day. You should start taking it a week or two before you try to quit. A course of treatment usually lasts around seven to nine weeks.
Both these medications have side effects including dry mouth, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), headaches, feeling and being sick, constipation, difficulty concentrating and dizziness but these are transient and may not affect you. Speak to your Pharmacist if you experience any troublesome side effects.
An e-cigarette is an electronic device that delivers nicotine in a vapour. This allows you to inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking, as the vapour contains no tar or carbon monoxide. Research has found that e-cigarettes can help you give up smoking, Clinical research is limited and long term effects of e-cigarettes is unknown so speak to your Pharmacist in Grant’s about this treatment option.
March 1st is Ash Wednesday so drop into Grant’s today and arm yourself with all the help you can get to quit the ash forever. We have a loyalty card that offers 10% back on NRT – so
call into Grant’s Pharmacy if you would like any more advice or information. We are located in Wexford, Enniscorthy and Arklow beside Pettitts Supervalu and in Gorey town on the Avenue. Find us on Facebook. www.grantspharmacy.ie