Get Ready for Great American Smokeout

Chances are you’ve never heard someone say, “Wow – I’m really glad that I’m a smoker” or “I really wish that I wouldn’t have quit smoking.” Yet, more than 43.4 million Americans continue to light up.

While 90% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking, tobacco is also linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, bladder, colon, larynx, and esophagus – just to name a few. Cancer, as a result of cigarette smoking, claimed the life of my mother and three beloved aunts; the oldest was only 50 when she passed.

Though we’re all familiar with the link between cigarettes and cancer, the threat looms too far in the future for some to take seriously; for others, smoking and the potential for cancer are a crapshoot. After all, we’ve all heard the stories of so-and-so’s Grandpa Joe who smoked 3 packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day and lived to be 101, or the sad tale of the smoker who quit cold turkey only to be killed by a runaway bus while crossing the street, right?

Did either of the above tales strike a chord? If so, let’s take a look at the “here and now” dangers of smoking – especially for those who already have health problems.

Increase in sputum. Though an increase in sputum is disgusting, producing excess mucus is a threat to your health.  From the first puff, irritating gases begin to cause chemical injury to lung and airway tissue, triggering an increase in mucus production. This excess mucus becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, and increases the susceptibility for colds, flu, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections.

Weakens immune system.
Smoking impairs the immune system by slowing antibody response and weakening white blood cells. Smokers have a far more difficult time fighting infections and foreign invaders than non-smokers.

Decreases circulation.
Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate, and reduces blood flow to the extremities. As blood flow decreases, so does the delivery of white blood cells or lymphocytes to the site of infection, slowing the healing time. In addition to a slower healing time and increased risk of stroke and heart attack, a sluggish circulatory system fails to clean the body efficiently, allowing dead cells and debris to build up in the body.

Hinders digestive system.
Cigarette smoke irritates the digestive tract, hindering the absorption of nutrients and contributes to common health disorders such as heartburn and peptic ulcers. In addition, smoking damages liver function. The liver, responsible for processing and removing drugs, alcohol, and other toxins from the body, loses its ability to function properly when damaged by cigarette smoke. If you do require medication, liver damage severely limits the pharmaceuticals you can ingest, and may stand in the way of you receiving the best medication for your health concern.

Keeps you from getting restful sleep. Did you know that smokers are four times more likely to get non-restorative sleep than non-smokers?  Stimulants found in cigarette smoke make it difficult to fall asleep, while nicotine withdrawal during the night disrupts the body’s natural sleep process. Inadequate and ineffective sleep keeps the body’s immune system from recharging, leading to a slew to of health problems.

The good news? There are immediate benefits to be had from kicking the cigarette habit:

• 8 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal
• 48 hours after quitting: All nicotine ill have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
• 2 weeks after quitting: Your circulation will increase, and will continue to improve for the next 10 weeks
• 3-9 months after quitting: Your lung capacity will have improved by 10%, lessening the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
• 1 year after quitting: Your risk of having a heart attack has dropped by 50%.

Whether you’re a smoker or have a smoker in your life, I hope that I’ve given you something to think about. This year, I urge you to participate in the Great American Smokeout Day on November 19th. This event challenges smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping that their decision to quit will last forever.

As the date approaches, I’ll be in touch with additional friendly reminders. In the meantime, I invite smokers to share their challenges and former smokers to share their quitting tips. Let’s kick the habit together!

Related Posts: What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate Stress

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2 Responses

  1. […] Related Posts: What’s Your Reason to Quit?, Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout […]

  2. […] Posts: Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout, What’s Your Happy Place? How to Alleviate […]

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