Why bother - I've smoked so long it wouldn't help my health
Although some of the damage done by smoked tobacco is permanent, much is reversible. As
early as the second day of abstinence, risk due to heart attack decreases. Within days,
risk of stroke and infections begins to decrease. Over months after stopping the linings
of the mouth, throat and bronchial tubes repair themselves, the cilia or little hairs in
the bronchial tree start to work and the lungs begin to clear themselves. Emotional
improvement begins to happen in weeks. Ten years after quitting, even heavy smokers of
twenty years have cut their risks of dying from complications of smoking more than in
How long after quitting smoking will my lungs return to
Congratulations on a job well done. You made the decision
to quit, followed through, and then launched an exercise program. Along with increasing
your lung capacity, you are reducing your risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease and
many other diseases and conditions.
The recovery of lung
capacity depends on how much and how long a person smoked before quitting. The good news
is that the process starts immediately after quitting. You don't say how long ago you
quit, but if you are able to walk briskly for an hour a day and work out with weights, I'd
guess your lungs are well on their way back to near-peak operating capacity.
If you were a heavy smoker
for 22 years, your lungs may never become what they were before you started smoking. They
may get close, though, and your risk of lung cancer should drop to almost that of a
non-smoker within 10 or 15 years.
Ten to 15 years may not be
soon enough to suit you, but believe me, you'll feel substantially better soon, if you
don't already. Some people have a rougher time than others with nicotine withdrawal. It
may take weeks or possibly months before you really come to appreciate your
Why you cough more when you quit
Smoking deadens the cilia in the lungs. These
are little hairlike cells that help brush out dust and other residues in normal, healthy
lungs. One of the reasons smokers have more infections is that their cilia are not
working, so foreign matter accumulates in their lungs. When you quit, the cilia get back
to work within a couple of days. The result: you start coughing up more phlegm and sputum.
Sometimes, ex-smokers get scared by this and think they have a new problem. But it's not
that at all, just another example of your body getting back to normal.
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