Understanding the impact of smoking on the body is crucial for those seeking a healthier, more vibrant life. In a previous article on the ‘Mysteries of the Human Body,’ we discussed how the body is a collection of interconnected systems that each perform a specific function. Bad habits like smoking have far-reaching consequences that affect nearly all of the body’s systems. From the well-documented damage to the lungs and cardiovascular system to the broader implications for overall health, smoking takes a toll on the body in various ways.
This article delves into the physiological effects of smoking and, more importantly, explores actionable steps to quit. By shedding light on the damage caused by smoking and offering guidance on how to break free from its grip, we aim to empower individuals to reclaim their health and well-being.
What smoking does to the body
Short term effects
In the brief aftermath of smoking a cigarette, the body experiences reduced oxygen flow, leading to fatigue and diminished energy levels. Nicotine’s rapid impact raises heart rate and blood pressure, temporarily creating a deceptive sense of heightened alertness. However, this apparent relief is short-lived, as smokers often face irritated respiratory systems, manifested through coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.
A study published in the Journal of Physiology & Behavior found that the sense of taste and smell take a hit as well, causing a temporary dulling that affects the enjoyment of food and beverages. Moreover, despite perceived relief through smoking, the stress response is activated, contributing to heightened tension and anxiety. These short-term consequences underscore the immediate toll that smoking takes on both physical and sensory aspects of overall health.
Long term effects
The impact of long-term smoking on the body unfolds over time, painting a grim picture of lasting health consequences. Chronic respiratory conditions, including chronic obstructive disease (COPD), bronchitis, and emphysema, become apparent, resulting in persistent breathing difficulties. Cardiovascular disease is also common among smokers, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis, leading to narrowed blood vessels.
Perhaps most ominously, the risk of various cancers skyrockets. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body including the lungs, throat, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, and more. Additionally, the immune system weakens, leaving individuals more susceptible to infections, while fertility can be compromised in both men and women. Long-time smokers also suffer from premature aging that manifests in wrinkles, sagging skin, deteriorated bone health, and even eye problems.
How to quit smoking to prevent further harm
Take the first steps to quitting
Make a personal plan that begins with setting a quit date within the next two weeks to give you ample time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. Next, let your family and friends know about your plan to quit so they can be there to support and encourage you. Cleanse your home, car, and work areas of all smoking-related products like cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. Finally, talk to your doctor about getting help to quit. They can put you in touch with a counselor or prescribe you quit medication if need be.
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy involves “replacing” cigarettes with other nicotine substitutes, such as nicotine pouches or patches. Nicotine pouches are placed between the gums and lip, while patches are applied directly on the skin. Both relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms by delivering small and steady doses of nicotine into your body. But unlike cigarettes, they do so without the tars and poisonous gases. For nicotine pouches, the website Prilla offers a wide selection of pouches from popular brands such as ZYN, Velo, and Rogue. These brands have a variety of strengths and flavors so that you can tailor them to your cessation journey. Meanwhile, you can buy high-dose NicoDerm CQ nicotine patches, which are good for heavy smokers, from most pharmacies without a prescription.
Seek support online
Join an online stop-smoking program or read a former smoker’s blog and post encouraging thoughts for someone else who might be dealing with tobacco cravings. Learn from how others have handled their tobacco cravings. Most importantly, don’t be discouraged if you relapse. For the majority of smokers, it can take up to an average of six attempts before kicking the habit completely.
The journey to break free from tobacco’s grasp is challenging but undeniably rewarding. By choosing to quit, individuals pave the way for a healthier future where they thrive, preventing further damage and unlocking the potential for a life unburdened by the detrimental effects of smoking.
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