According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes nearly 6 million deaths around the world each year, and current trends show that tobacco use will be responsible for more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. It is the leading cause of preventable death in America, and as many as 16 million people are living with a disease caused by smoking, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and diabetes. So what if you quit the habit? How reversible are these risks? That’s what we’ll be exploring today, in this episode of The Infographics Show: What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking?
Apart from that fact it’s bad for your health, there are many other reasons to quit smoking. It’s expensive, it makes your hair and clothes stink, and in many places in the world, it’s considered unsociable with bans in bars and restaurants meaning you’ll need to leave the crowd and head outside for a puff. There are plenty of plusses to kicking the habit, but what will the health results be? Let’s take a look at how your body will change as time passes once you’ve quit smoking…
20 Minutes – In less time than it takes to commute to work, your body will already be fixing itself. 20 minutes after the last cigarette is stubbed out, your pulse and blood pressure start to drop back to normal, circulation will start to improve, and your hands and feet will warm to their usual temperature.
12 Hours – Cigarettes contain a lot of known toxins including a harmful gas, carbon monoxide. This gas can be fatal in high doses, as it prevents oxygen from entering the lungs and blood. At 12 hours, halfway through your first day, your carbon monoxide level is back to normal, which is great for your heart, as it doesn’t have to pump as hard to get enough oxygen to your body. Unfortunately though, it’s at this point you’ll be feeling the withdrawal and cravings. A couple of ways to fight these feelings are by chewing gum or sipping water.
24 Hours – Well done, you’ve hit the one day mark! And the good news is that after just 24 hours, a person’s blood pressure begins to drop, decreasing the risk of heart disease, and blood clots that can lead to stroke. If you smoke a pack a day, you’re twice as likely to have a heart attack as a nonsmoker, and that risk has already been reduced considerably after just 24 hours. And with oxygen levels on the rise, physical activity and exercise will already feel easier.
48 Hours – 2 days in is a good time for a tasty snack. Smoking damages the nerve endings which decreases your ability to smell and taste properly, and after only 48 hours, your senses will get sharper as nerve endings begin to heal. Your body will also enter a detoxification phase, with your lungs kicking out mucus left from cigarettes. The downside is that this is when the toughest withdrawal symptoms show up. If you were a heavy smoker, you might feel dizzy, anxious, or tired. And you may also crave more food than usual.
3 Days – After 3 days, the nicotine levels in a person’s body are depleted. Ridding the body of nicotine leaves a person much healthier, but initially this also adds to the effects of withdrawal. At the 3 day mark, many people will become moody and irritable, experiencing severe headaches and cravings, as the body readjusts. On the positive side, energy levels will increase and you will breathe more easily.
During the first 3 Months – This is when the major improvements start. After a couple of weeks, the cravings will subside and the chance of going back to the habit, is far less likely. Your lungs become stronger and clearer, and your blood flow has greatly improved. You can exercise without huffing and puffing so much, and the risk of a heart attack goes down even more.
9 Months – 9 months after quitting, there will be major physical changes and improvements in the body. The lungs have significantly healed themselves. The delicate, hair-like structures inside the lungs known as cilia, which help to fight infections, will have recovered from the toll of cigarette smoke. Around this time, many former smokers notice a decrease in the frequency of lung infections because the healed cilia can do their job more easily. You’ll also be able to take deeper breaths, and energy levels will be a lot higher and back to normal.
1 Year – A big milestone with the habit in the distant past. Time to celebrate the achievement. The risk of heart disease has decreased by half and will continue to drop beyond this 1-year mark.
5 Years – After 5 years without smoking, the body has healed itself so that the arteries and blood vessels begin to widen again. This means blood is less likely to clot which lowers the risk of stroke, to the same level as a nonsmoker. And compared to when you first quit, you’re half as likely to get cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, or bladder.
10 Years – Lung cancer is one of the greatest risks a smoker faces and after 10 years, a person’s chances of developing lung cancer and dying from it are about half compared to a smoker.
15 Years – And finally, after 15 years of not smoking, the chances that you’ll get heart disease are the same as if you never smoked at all. Your body has done a huge amount of recovery and healing, rejuvenating the tissue and cells. From the first few weeks of headaches and discomfort, to a fully healed body…a long path but the rewards are very real and clear.
There’s no real argument to be made for continuing to smoke. As well as the changes to your health, your immune system will also improve, your hair may become thicker and fuller, and your skin will age less quickly. But of course, it’s never easy, particularly during the first few days and weeks. If you’re quitting and need support and are based in the US, you can always call the National Cancer Institute’s quitline on 877-44U-QUIT.
So, have you quit smoking? If so, how did you manage to do it and has your health improved? Let us know in the comments! Also be sure to check out our other video, What If You Only Drank Coke and Nothing Else?! Thanks for watching and as always don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!