Teens as well as adult smokers assume that no harmful effects of smoking will result. At least not immediately so, with the idea that cancer, stroke or heart disease is not the result of smoking “just one more” cigarette. But, this is not true.
Smoking impacts the body the minute you engage in it. From the brain to the respiratory, immune, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and metabolic mechanisms of the body, irreversible effects impact these systems and create an impact which can be chronic.
Short Term Effects of Smoking: What Happens When You Opt for Just One Cigarette?
#1 Quick Addiction: From Just One to A Whole Packet
Addiction need not occur if the person smokes for a long period of time. Addiction can develop very rapidly, especially in younger smokers. In fact, you feel cravings associated with smoking after a span of just 7 days. Quitting the habit becomes tough, with a penchant for just one more transitioning into a whole packet for many smokers.
#2 Increase Stress, Alter Brain Chemistry
Smokers ironically give relaxation that results from pulling at a cigarette as the top cause for smoking. Smoking actually increases stress levels and alters brain chemistry.
Dopamine receptors of the brain are destroyed changing the neurochemistry of the brain. This leaves smokers perpetually in the need of a smoke.
#3 Cough That Never Goes, Airways That Are Always Clogged
Smoking leads to the paralysis of cilia– hair in the lungs. This is what initiates inhalation of tobacco smoke which goes deep into the lungs and the cough that results (commonly known as “smokers cough“) develops rapidly in the long rum.
Bronchospasm results, with the person unable to breathe in fresh oxygen due to constriction of the airways.
#4 Harmful for Heart Health, Deadly for the Cardiovascular System
Smoking lowers the concentration of nitric oxide causing blood vessels to be constricted. This vasoconstriction leaves smokers susceptible to stroke and heart attacks. Increasing heart rate, blood pressure and risk point the way for short term effects that are lethal.
#5 Peptic Ulcers, Heartburn, Acid Reflux
Gastroesophagal Reflux Disorder (acid reflux in common parlance) is experienced the instant a person starts smoking. Peptic ulcers develop in the stomach, esophagus and small intestine.
#6 Halitosis, Dental Issues
Smoking damages the teeth and causes teeth yellowing and decay. Those who commence smoking at a young age may also suffer from bad breath. Sinus problems also develop as a result of smoking.
#7 Second Hand Smoke. Firsthand Damage
Second hand smoke can cause a serious issue for children, pregnant mothers and the health of those surrounding the smoker.
Long Term Effects: When You Succumb to Smoking
Tar in cigarette serves to coat lungs, leading to cancers of the respiratory system and the throat in the long term. Carbon monoxide present in cigarettes lower availability of oxygen to the body and brain. This means the heart works extra hard and this can exacerbate heart attack or stroke.
Hardening of the arteries and other circulatory issues make the situation far more complex. Increased risk of brain damage and stroke, eye cataracts, degeneration in the eyes, loss of sense of smell or taste, cancer, osteoporosis, chronic bronchitis are only some of the long term results of smoking.
Triggering asthma, emphysema, leukemia, hypertension, heart disease, smoking increases the risk of slower healing, back pain, infection, lack or irregular menses and reduced fertility.
Passive smoking can be equally dangerous in the long run. Birth defects and reproductive damage can result from second hand smoke.
Consider that of 181,000 people dying in the US from smoking linked heart disease and 158,000 from cancer caused by cigarette smoke, the numbers would explode even more if the impact of passive smoking was to be considered.
#1 Heart Disease
Smoking can lead to a variety of heart related conditions from blocked blood vessels to congestive heart failure, strokes, heart attacks, hypertension and arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
The dreaded cancer is also the result of smoking and can range across any of the following types:
• Upper respiratory tract
#4 Lung Diseases
Emphysema or when the bronchioles or airways in the lung lose flexibility leading to an incurable medical condition where patients cannot exhale completely, results from smoking.
Another lung related condition is chronic bronchitis, where smoking causes the lungs to change size ands shape, resulting in persistent “smoker’s cough.”
#5 Reproductive Harm
Smoking can cause loss of fertility, problems in sperm production and menstrual cycles, and can seriously damage a developing fetus resulting in miscarriage, still birth, low birth weight, premature birth and crib deaths or SIDS.
#6 Weakened Immune System
Unwanted weight loss resulting from smoking damages the immunity of the body. Bringing the defenses down, this leaves the smoker vulnerable to wide range of medical conditions and diseases. Smokers, according to studies, inhale over seven thousand chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Tobacco alone has 60 known carcinogens including CO, free radicals, hydrogen cyanide, tar, and radioactive compounds that poison the system. The chances of developing a heart attack increase by 5 times for smokers.
Smoking also opens the window for severe and long lasting illnesses in the long term, lowering the level of antioxidants in the blood and developing all kinds of infections and medical conditions.
Smoker’s toxicity levels rise catastrophically and from the permanent damage to the lung to the narrowing of the airways, the impact of cigarettes can literally be felt as you breathe in the toxins.
Life After Quitting: How to Counter the Cravings
The health risks of smoking are known to one and all. But this does not stop people from engaging in this life threatening habit whether you consider the vulnerable young adult smoker or the one pack a day smoker. Why is it so hard to kick the habit?
Quite simply because nicotine in the cigarette exerts an addictive effect and there are strong withdrawal symptoms, if you stop taking this substance.
How do you lessen the cravings and counter the urge?
Consider these efficient pointers on how to ward off smoking:
• Join a nicotine support group
• Discover triggers that cause smoking
• Plan how to counter cravings
• Reduce nicotine intake over time
• Use alternative therapies like acupuncture
• Educate your self about ill effects of smoking
Smoking is a physical addiction and a psychological habit. So, the mind-body impact of quitting smoking is the reason why quitting is so hard. Apart from the physical withdrawal, the effects of nicotine on the brain create a feel good vibe that is hard to get over.
Smoking is a ritual, and a way of relating to others too. Addiction comes with its own set of routines and habits. Address all these aspects. With the right strategies and support, you can quit and remain smoke-free for the rest of your life.
While some smokers choose to go cold turkey, many people choose to meet the challenge of quitting smoking and preventing relapse. Specific needs and smoking habits need to be considered.
What to Ask Yourself
When it comes to quitting smoking, the questions matter as much as the answers. Think of the type of smoker you are, the intensity of your addiction and the tips, therapies or techniques that may work well.
If you decide not to go cold turkey, you need to set a date, make a plan and remove all signs of smoking from your life and your immediate surroundings.
Smoking Log: Keeping a Craving Journal
The craving journal can help zone in on triggers and patterns. Study all aspects of the craving from the time to the intensity, the activities to counter cravings and the emotions experienced therein.
Coping with anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness and fear are some of the many reasons adults smoke. If you are looking to stop smoking, check to see what other emotions come to you.
Checking Common Triggers
Some of the most common triggers for smoking are social. When you are at the pub, having a drink, the urge to smoke may get the better of you. Try using a mock tail to make make the urge vanish into thin air. When others smoke around you, quitting or avoiding relapse becomes tough.
Social circles need to be clear that one needs to change habits. Whether you are used to ending a meal with a smoke or starting one, prevent the urge to splurge on smokes and keep yourself nicotine free.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Once smoking is stopped, numerous physical symptoms are experienced as the body experiences a loss of nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal starts within as little as thirty minutes of the previous smoke and peaks around 2-3 days afterwards.
Withdrawal symptoms can exist for weeks at an end and depends on individual cases. Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:
• Cravings for smoke
• Anger, frustration or irritation
• Anxiety, inability to concentrate and nervousness
• Rising appetite
• Headaches & insomnia
• Digestive problems
• Decreased heart rate and depression
Once the withdrawal symptoms diminish, the toxins are flushed from your body and you are nicotine free.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is an important part of smoking cessation. While some people manage to quit cold turkey and stay tobacco free for the rest of their lives, the results can vary considerably for other former smokers.
Coping with Cigarette Cravings
The first step is to distract yourself. Another powerful motivator is to remember why you quit. Move out of a tempting situation, where you are oriented towards social smoking or the solitary cigarette.
Another way out is to avoid stimulants by using natural items to cope with cravings such as mint, gum, sunflower seeds. Keeping your mind busy and your hands too is essential.
Use pens, paperweights, or paper clips for tactile stimulation. Another surefire way to freshen your mouth is to brush your teeth or drink water. This is good for oral health and drinking juice, water etc, also keeps you well-hydrated.
Relaxation, meditation, positive visual imagery and exercise are just some of the most important ways you can engage yourself and walk away from cigarettes for good.
Smoking supresses the appetite and dampens sense of taste and smell. This will change once you quit smoking, but you still need to avoid emotional eating.
Nurture yourself and soothe your inner emotions using new techniques like biofeedback and positive meditation techniques. Diet, exercise and hydration works well. Choose guilt-free food and therapy for a holistic approach.
Can Medicines Help?
Anti smoking medication works in many ways. One such is nicotine replacement therapy. This replaces cigarettes with other substitutes like nicotine gum, patch, inhaler, nasal spray or lozenges.
This USFDA approved method delivers small, regular doses of nicotine to you and relieves withdrawal symptoms without tars and toxic gases found in cigarettes. Break away from the addiction using non nicotine medication.
Medications like Zyban and Chantix are for short term.
Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes has also found growing acceptance in recent years. This is especially practical for smokers have find it hard to quit cold turkey.
While vaping brings along with it, its own list of health scares, it is definitely, a much healthier alternative when compared to traditional tobacco products.
Stop smoking with alternative therapies out to help you, should medication or nicotine replacement therapy not work well.
This Chinese traditional therapy works by triggering feel good endorphons which relive pain naturally and allow the body to relax. Coping with withdrawal becomes easier with this therapy using needles to activate points of the body.
#2 Behavioral Therapy
Behavior modification therapy also works well for smoking cessation. Countering the habits and rituals centering around smoking helps to break habits and learn fresh coping skills.
#3 Motivation Works Too
Motivational therapies such as self help books, websites provide a wealth of ways to motivate oneself and quit smoking. Motivate yourself by concentrating on health and monetary benefits.
If you start to sink or relapse, turn it into a rebound by acquiring insights into what works and (equally important) what does not.
Slipping into old smoking habits or relapsing can prove disastrous. You need to motivate yourself from the inside out, to ensure a slip does not turn into a complete relapse.
Small setbacks are natural, but kicking the habit for good requires will power. Make failure a stepping stone to success and check your quit log to see when you felt rewarded for quitting smoking and how you can maintain the momentum.
With 90 percent of those aiming at quitting smoking doing it without aids, medicine or therapy and an estimated 5-10 percent of these succeeding, you have to remember that motivation counts.
When it comes to countering the craving, gums, patches, sprays, inhaler and lozenges for nicotine replacement therapy can also work well with positive reinforcement, behavior modification and support from friends and family.
Using a combination of treatment can help you to quit. For example, pairing a nicotine patch with gum can work well. Prescription medication can help along with counseling. But ensure that you do not combine two different nicotine replacement therapies as the FDA has not approved this.
Regardless of which combination you choose, you need to make winning choices without losing your motivation. Know your triggers early on and avoid these.
The first few days are tough, especially if you go cold turkey and need to motivate yourself to not chicken out. Don’t give in to your cravings. Instead, work on changing your habits and trying out new hobbies.
According to CDC, 17 in 100 adults in the US smoke. In 2010, 7 of every 10 smokers admitted to wanting to quit. Now, official statistics indicate former smokers outnumber current ones.
Smoking cessation experts have implemented eastern strategies with Western medication to offer results that are beneficial and promising.
When you quit smoking, the cravings persist. Detoxification of the body to eliminate toxins plays a crucial role in combating cravings.
From the ancient art of acupuncture since 113 BC to the latest innovations in technology in the form of medications and nicotine replacement patches, there are a plethora of smoking cessation tools and techniques to combat this life threatening addiction.