Reaping the Benefits of Quitting Smoking

While greatly reducing one’s chances of premature death and respiratory diseases are the primary benefits of quitting smoking, there are additional health benefits than can be developed if this habit is cut. Individuals who quit smoking may lessen infections from cold and flu viruses and improve their overall health. The health benefits of quitting smoking should not be taken for granted. As soon as a smoker quits, these benefits start immediately, specifically in terms of improving blood circulation and stabilizing blood pressure. Long-term effects of this lifestyle change are overwhelming and may include the following:

At 5 years:

From 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked.

At 10 years:

Risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers

Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases

Risk of ulcer decreases

At 15 years:

Risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked

Risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

Despite these health benefits, countless smokers are still not quitting the habit. Health specialists suggest that this phenomenon happens because of nicotine addiction. Nicotine is an active component of cigarette that may stimulate the brain and provides a rush of adrenaline, a hormone that acts as neurotransmitter. A rush of adrenaline may provide a shot of energy and give the so-called experience of being “high.” When the nicotine levels of regular smokers falter, they usually experience withdrawal symptoms that may include restlessness, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and craving for another smoke. These smokers need to smoke regularly in order to feel normal, a condition that may lead to addiction and quitting smoking becomes more difficult.

Individuals who are having a hard time quitting smoking may try to relieve nicotine addiction by using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products which includes nicotine skin patches, sprays, and gums. These products are scientifically proven to aid individuals who want to quit smoking. NRT products work by temporarily supplying the body with nicotine through means other than cigarettes. This helps calm physical withdrawal symptoms of cigarette smoking. A study conducted by the American Family Physician (AFP), a peer-reviewed journal suggests that smokers who used NRT were 2.27 times more likely to quit than those who did not use them. The report added that individuals who used any type of NRT products were 1.72 times more likely to be free of smoking after six months or more.

NRT products are normally safe, but some individuals may experience side effects like depression, palpitations, irritability, sinusitis, and breathing problems. For this reason, individuals who want to try NRT products should seek the approval of health professionals to clarify side effects and drug interactions that may occur while under medication. Pregnant women and individuals with coronary heart disease should be tested and evaluated before taking NRT products.

Individuals who have a hard time cutting the habit may try using nicotine suppressants. These products, however, cannot do all the work. The most effective way to quit smoking involves determination, discipline, and commitment to stop the habit permanently. Using these products can help smokers cut the habit by making them more comfortable with adjusting to a life without cigarettes. With the right tools and attitude, quitting smoking and reducing the development of heart diseases can be easier than others think.

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