We already know that smoking is unhealthy, this fact has long been widely known. This is because cigarettes contain the harmful substances tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. The tar in particular is very bad for your lungs. Nicotine is an addictive substance that mainly works on the nervous system, and the substance that makes quitting smoking so difficult.
But what actually happens in your body when you stop smoking? This is what happens if you leave that cigarette in the future.
The effect of smoking
Smoking releases thousands of chemicals into your body. Not only is this bad for your lungs, but it also damages your heart. It is the carbon monoxide that prevents oxygen from entering the red blood cells. Red blood cells normally carry oxygen to cells in your body.
Professor of Toxicology Martine van den Berg at Utrecht University explained that the carbon monoxide from the cigarette binds to your red blood cells. As a result, your body has to work harder for more oxygen, which is bad for your heart.
But even if you’ve smoked for many years, you can reverse its unhealthy effects and quickly see the health benefits.
The period after smoking
The positive effects of quitting smoking will take effect quickly. Stopping smoking always makes sense and 20 minutes after your last cigarette you can already feel the effects in your body.
20 minutes after your cigarette
Your blood pressure and heart rate drop again. It is also better for your bronchial tubes. From your windpipe, air enters these bronchi, both of which are connected to your lungs.
Constant exposure to smoke causes fibers in the bronchi to move less well, but when you stop, they do so better. The fibers move irritants and bacteria out of your lungs, reducing the risk of infection.
24 hours after your cigarette
Your lungs continue to clear. All the carbon monoxide is already out of your body and you are probably coughing up phlegm.
2 to 12 weeks after your cigarette
Your lung function and circulation have improved.
A year after your cigarette
You can worry less about cardiovascular disease, the risk of this has now been halved. You may notice how much easier you breathe during exercise and how much less you cough, compared to when you were still smoking.
15 years after your cigarette
After this long time, your risk of having a heart attack or stroke has dropped significantly, to a level equivalent to that of someone who has never smoked. The risk of cardiovascular disease is also equal to that of a non-smoker. 15 years is a real milestone when you stop smoking.
Of course, you will experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting. Possible withdrawal symptoms you may experience are sadness, a feeling of restlessness or panic, or difficulty concentrating.
Such a change in your mood is because your body protests the sudden lack of nicotine. You will probably feel better after two weeks.
According to pulmonologist and founder of the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation Wanda de Kanter, she sees the withdrawal symptoms peak on the third day after stopping. “Your brain has to work harder to make dopamine for the first 6 to 8 weeks, and it can feel like you’re depressed,” de Kanter said.
The role of age
It appears to be important that you stop smoking as early as possible. The younger you are, the more likely your body is to recover properly. If you stop around the age of 35, you have the same chance of dying later in life as someone who has never smoked.
If you don’t stop until you’re 50, the chance is much higher. Quitting smoking before you are 50 cuts your chances of dying from it in half. So it is better to leave that cigarette as soon as possible!
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This is what happens to your body when you stop smoking
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