Countdown to Better Health
How Much Did You Smoke?Every quitter's recovery proceeds at a different pace. Someone who has smoked for less than a year will likely have an easier time adjusting to the smoke free life than someone who has smoked for 20 years. Also, some smokers smoke two cigarettes a day while others smoke two packs a day. Doctors use a concept called “pack years” to gauge a smoker's health risks as well as a former smoker's chances for recovery. Learn how it works. READ MORE
Chronic, heavy smoking can increase the number and sensitivity of receptors for nicotine molecules in your brain and elsewhere in your central nervous system. After a heavy smoker quits, the nicotine receptor sites remain in a resting state. They can jump back into their active state if they are exposed to nicotine again. LESS
Incomplete RecoveryYour body definitely breathes a sigh of relief when you stop smoking, but not all damage from smoking can be reversed. Although there is some promising research into regenerating the lungs' alveoli, extensive damage to these tiny air sacs limits a former smoker's recovery. There are major improvements for anyone who quits, but long-time heavy smokers will likely have a longer haul to good health. READ MORE
Researchers who hope to help former smokers and other COPD sufferers improve their lung function are encouraged by animal studies showing that a form of vitamin A seems to help the body regrow lung tissue. Specifically, the tiny alveoli of lab mice experienced regrowth after being treated with a vitamin A derivative called retinoic acid. There is not yet an intervention using RA to help humans with damaged alveolar sacs, however. The respiratory cilia, which sweep garbage out of the airways, can be restored to working condition after a smoker quits. Over time, the toxins in smoke slow the cilia down, and then paralyze them. But after you quit, as the epithelial tissue recovers and mucus-producing goblet cells begin to behave normally, paralyzed cilia can begin to do their job again. LESS
The Smoke-Free LifeOnce quitters can savor the feeling of freedom from both cigarettes and cravings, they report quality of life improvements they hadn't expected. They can taste their food, and it tastes good! Their clothes, homes, cars and belongings don't smell of smoke. They breathe deeply. They run after their pets or children without having a coughing fit. They feel optimistic and independent. Although they may still occasionally crave a cigarette, the joys of not smoking compel them to stay the course. READ MORE
20 Minutes After Quitting
Your heart rate drops.
8 Hours After Quitting
Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream falls to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels
12 Hours After Quitting
Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
Anxieties peak in intensity.
Senses of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Cessation-related anger and irritability peak.
The entire body will test 100% nicotine-free. More than 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals nicotine breaks down into) have passed from the body via urine.
The "average” ex-user has fewer than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days to 2 weeks
Blood circulation in gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
2 to 4 weeks
Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended.
Brain acetylcholine receptor counts have now returned to levels seen in the brains of nonsmokers.
2 Weeks to 3 Months After Quitting
Your heart attack risk begins to drop.
Your lung function begins to improve.
1 to 9 Months After Quitting
Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
1 Year After Quitting
Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
5 Years After Quitting
Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s 5-15 years after quitting.
10 Years After Quitting
Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s.
Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases.
Risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of someone who has never smoked.
15 Years After Quitting
Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker’s.
Female quitters’ excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, falls to that of a woman who has never smoked. LESS