I always get nervous when the subject of smoking comes up. I don't want people to feel judged or lectured. I appreciate that it is a highly addictive habit. I promise that when the subject is raised on this blog I will try to let you know of the facts whilst not making anyone feel like they have to quit. I know many people who are currently in the process of trying to quit smoking and wean their body off cigarettes. I have found a very interesting timeline which describes how your body begins to repair itself once you've stopped smoking and I thought it would be a good idea to highlight these milestones to encourage anyone going through the process to keep going! You can do it!
20 Minutes After Your Last Cigarette – the temperate of your hands and feet has returned to normal and so has your blood pressure and your pulse rate.
8 Hours After Your Last Cigarette – The nicotine levels in your bloodstream has reduced by 93.25% which is just 6.25% of your normal daily level at the peak of smoking.
12 Hours After Your Last Cigarette – Your carbon monoxide levels have dropped to normal whilst your blood oxygen levels have increased to normal.
24 Hours After Your Last Cigarette – Your anxiety level will have peaked in its intensity, making you crave a cigarette – this will return to a normal level within two weeks.
48 Hours After Your Last Cigarette – Your nerve endings which have been damaged by smoking will be starting to regrow. Your sense of smell and taste will begin to return to a normal level. Your anger and irritability levels will have peaked, making you very agitated.
72 Hours After Your Last Cigarette – You will be entirely 100% nicotine free!!!! On top of that you will have passed over 90% of all the chemicals nicotine breaks down into (nicotine metabolites) via your urine. Breathing is becoming easier for you and your lungs are being to increase in function. Your lung bronchial tubes which lead to your alveoli (air sacs) are beginning to relax as your body recovers. On the downside, your chemical withdrawal symptoms have peaked in their intensity and you will feel restless amongst other things.
5 to 8 Days After Your Last Cigarette – You will encounter an average of three cue induced craving episodes per day at this time. These shouldn't last longer then a few minutes.
10 Days After Your Last Cigarette – You will encounter less then two cue induced craving episodes lasting no longer then three minutes.
10 Days to Two Weeks After Your Last Cigarette – You should be at the point where your addiction isn’t controlling you anymore. The blood circulation in your teeth and gums will become similar to that of a non smoker.
2 to 4 Weeks After Your Last Cigarette – You should no longer be feeling any anger, anxiety, impatience, insomnia, depression, restlessness or finding it difficult to concentrate due to your withdrawal from cigarettes. If you do then you should make an appointment to have these symptoms assessed by a doctor.
2 Weeks to 3 Months After Your Last Cigarette – Your risk of a heart attack is starting to drop and your lung function is beginning to improve.
3 Weeks to 3 Months After Your Last Cigarette – Your circulation should be improving significantly. Walking will become easier. If you had a chronic cough as a smoker then it should be almost all gone (see a doctor if it hasn’t by this point).
8 Weeks After Your Last Cigarette – Your Insulin resistance will have normalised and you may have gained a little weight (the average weight gain at this point is 2.7kg).
1 to 9 Months After Your Last Cigarette – Cilia will have regrown in your lungs which means your lungs should have an increased ability to handle mucus, keep themselves clean and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy level will have increased. Any shortness of breath, fatigue and sinus congestion related to smoking will have decreased significantly.
1 Year After Your Last Cigarette – Your heightened risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and stokes will have decreased to less then half of what it was when you smoked.
5 Years After Your Last Cigarette – Your risk of a subarachnoid hemorrhage has declined to 59% of what it was when you smoked. Female ex smokers will now find their risk of developing diabetes has decreased to that of a non smoker.
5 to 15 Years After Your Last Cigarette – Your risk of having a stroke has decreased to that of a non smoker.
10 Years After Your Last Cigarette – Your risk of developing lung cancer has decreased to 30-50% of a smoker. Risk of dying from lung cancer has decreased by about half. Your risk of developing cancer of the mouth, pancreas, throat and oesophagus has declined significantly. Risk of developing diabetes has decreased to a similar level for a non smoker for both male and female former smokers.
13 Years After Your Last Cigarette – The risk of losing teeth related to your smoking will have declined to the same level as someone who has never smoked.
15 Years After Your Last Cigarette – Your risk of developing coronary heart disease is now the same as a person who have never smoked as is your risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.
20 Years After Your Last Cigarette – The risk of a female former smoker dying from a smoking related illness will have reduced to the same level as someone who has never smoked.
So those are the facts. The whole “damage is done so I may as well continue” thing is a myth. Your body can recover and repair the damage smoking has created. I’m not claiming you won’t get ill but you will give yourself a chance to repair the damage and potentially avoid major illnesses. Your hair, skin, nails, teeth etc…. will all improve. Your ability to exercise will improve. Your overall health and wellbeing will improve.
If you are attempting to quit smoking or have managed to do so then I salute you. I would highly recommend keeping an eye on how much money you are saving by not smoking as that is also a great incentive to keep going when the craving are driving you crazy. Let me know how you get on and I wish you luck!