Cigarette smoking has a negative effect on nearly every organ in the body. In fact, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. resulting in more than 443,000 deaths each year.
In addition, secondhand-smoke causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in non-smokers. Smoking is very addictive, but with the right attitude and help, smokers can quit.
Effects of Smoking
Short-term effects of smoking include more frequent respiratory illnesses such as coughs, colds, bronchitis and pneumonia. Children and adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke have high more ear infections, asthma and lower respiratory infections.
The long-term effects of smoking are extensive and severe. Numerous cancers are linked to smoking including: mouth, throat, lung, pancreatic, stomach, kidney, bladder and cervical cancers. In fact, nearly one third of ALL cancers are linked to tobacco use and 90 percent of lung cancer is linked to smoking.
Smoking also causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which causes devastating lung damage. It reduces blood circulation and narrows blood vessels, depriving the body of oxygen and increasing the risk for heart disease. It also doubles the risk for stroke and increases the risk of cataracts. Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are 25 percent more likely to develop heart disease. Smoking poses additional health risks for women. It increases their risk for rheumatoid arthritis, leads to osteoporosis and increases the chances of hip and spine fractures in postmenopausal women. Women of child bearing age who smoke risk pregnancy complications and higher rates of infertility. Smoking during pregnancy also diminishes the unborn baby’s health, putting them at risks for premature birth, respiratory illnesses and low birth weight.
Help for Withdrawal Symptoms
Unpleasant side effects are common when someone stops smoking, but these are natural reactions in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
- extreme cravings for cigarette
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- slower heartbeat
Smoking Cessation Tips
1. Set a date – choose a date when you’re likely to have lower stress. Mark it on the calendar.
2. Expect to feel miserable short term – feeling miserable, irritable or depressed is common when you first quit smoking. Nicotine clears out of the system within a day or two. For the first few weeks, you may be hungrier, using snacks to occupy your hands and mouth. Sugarless gum or hard candy may help fight cigarette cravings.
3. Remove smoking triggers – such as smell of cigarette, ashtray or morning coffee. Remove anything that reminds you of smoking at home, the office or car.
4. Ask about prescription medications – Two FDA approved drugs may help you stop smoking. Zyban (also known as antidepressant Wellbutrin) reduces nicotine cravings and helps curb appetite. Chantix blocks the pleasant effects nicotine has on the brain to help overcome chemical dependency.
5. Try nicotine replacements – such as nicotine gum, patches, inhalers or lozenges. Nicotine replacements give the body low doses of nicotine while the smoker adjusts to a smoke free lifestyle. The replacements do not provide the same sensation as cigarettes, but supply enough nicotine to ease withdrawal symptoms. They may be used during the first few days or weeks of quitting.
6. Get support or counseling – seek smoking cessation counseling to increase your chances of remaining smoke-free.
If you or someone you know may need help to stop smoking, call iTherapy. We can help with prescription medications to help you stop smoking and provide counseling support during this challenging time.