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How your body heals itself when you stop smoking

Smoking is one of the most harmful habits a person can have.

Smoking is one of the most harmful habits a person can have.

It’s the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the country, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it amounts to nearly 480,000 deaths every year.

This habit harms just about every organ in the body, according to Smokefree.gov. It impacts the brain, mouth, heart and lungs by weakening the immune system which then increases your chance of illness, infection and cancer.

Thankfully, the body can repair itself almost instantly after quitting. If you’re a smoker who’s interested in breaking the habit, read on to find out how soon you’ll start reaping the benefits:

Short term benefits

1. After only 20 minutes of being smoke-free, your blood pressure and heart rate will return to normal levels, according to the American Heart Association. The ingredients in cigarettes cause both to spike, so breathing in fresh air will get them back to normal.

2. Once 12 hours of quitting has passed, the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will decrease and reduce the chance of developing cardiovascular issues.

3. According to the Cleveland Clinic, smokers have a 70 percent higher chance of experiencing complications from coronary heart disease. Therefore, after 24 hours – or a whole day of being smoke-free – your risk of having a heart attack starts to decrease.

4. Once you’ve made it to your second day without smoking, your sense of smell and taste will begin to bounce back and you’ll soon find a whole new appreciation for flavors and scents.

5. Between one and nine months of quitting, the AHA says you will start coughing and losing your breath less, because your lungs will gradually clear out and make deep breathing easier. 

Long term benefits

6. Reaching the milestone of being one year smoke-free is a huge deal, and with good reason. According to the American Lung Association, your risk of having a heart attack – that was once more than double that of a non-smokers – is now half.

7. Because carbon monoxide constricts the blood vessels in your body, being a smoker increases your risk of having a stroke. But within five to 15 years after quitting, your chance of experiencing a stroke is the same as a smoker’s.

8. Within this same time frame, your risk of developing mouth, throat or esophagus cancer is nearly half of a smoker’s chance.

9. According to the AHA, your risk of dying from lung cancer decreases by 50 percent, and your chance of developing larynx or pancreatic cancer is decreased. The possibility of developing any other major organ-related cancer becomes half that of a smoker.

10. Once you’ve reached the 15 year mark, your risk of experiencing coronary heart disease – the leading cause of death – is no longer greater than someone who doesn’t smoke. All of your major body functioning will restore completely, and you can pat yourself on the back for turning your life around and repairing your health.

Dealing with withdrawal
Remember: Even with so many positive benefits, your body is going to be confused when you quit – especially if you’ve been a smoker for a long time. Breaking an addiction to nicotine might cause your body to go through withdrawal, which can cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, cravings, mood swings and more. Even though these symptoms may seem worse than smoking itself, it’s all a part of the healing process, according to Quit Smoking Community. Stay focused and reach out to your doctor for advice if you’re having a hard time dealing with the withdrawal.

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