Here’s What Happens When You Quit Smoking

No matter how long you’ve been a smoker - 10 days or 10 years, your body can repair itself once you call it quits

3 min read
 Here’s What Happens When You Quit Smoking

You know smoking kills. And the longer you smoke, the worse it gets for your body.

We’re not going to get a person with a hole in their neck to tell you the horrible side-effects of smoking. You probably know them already. What you might not know is that each cigarette you don’t smoke is making you healthy. That’s right, the minute you kick the butt, your body gets into overdrive mode to fix itself.

Yeah, it’s awesome like that.

Quit Smoking Timeline

(Photo: Nikita Mishra/The Quint)

After only twenty minutes of your last cigarette, your heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure begin to normalise. In less than eight hours, only 6% nicotine stays in your blood.

After 12 hours, if you don’t step out for another cigarette break, your blood oxygen level begins to spike up and carbon monoxide level drops.

The first day of not smoking is the toughest. Your quitting related anxiety is at the peak, you will feel worse for a good three days but remember in that time the body is healing itself.

In three days, you are 100% nicotine-free and that means the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal peaks at this time but remember these symptoms are a sign that the body is in rebuild mode.

It might not sound as grave as cancer, but for smokers, the sense of smell and taste is quite numb. In the first week itself, the sense of smell and taste begins to improve and that makes food so much more delightful.

In a month’s time, your lung function improves by 30% which means you can finally start training for that marathon in your bucket list.

In less than nine months, the celia in your lungs begins to re-grow - this increases your lungs capacity to clear mucus, handle any respiratory infection and make you feel wholesome again. Your chronic cough, shortness of breath will also disappear.

A comparison between the healthy (left) and the smoker’s lungs (right). Once the celia, or the tiny hair-like structures in the lungs regains its normal function, it starts to look as healthy as a non-smokers lungs (Photo courtesy:

In one year’s time, you sort of realise that one can give up smoking without feeling the urge to murder. And congratulations on lowering your risk of heart attacks and strokes by HALF to that of a smoker. That’s a huge achievement!

What can be bigger than that? Your risk of fatal heart diseases and brain strokes are the same as that of a non-smoker in just five years. Of course, this figure also depends on how long you’ve been smoking. For example, if you picked up the habit in college and stopped after graduation, you balance the risk of deadly smoking-related diseases in a much lesser time than 5 years.

Every cigarette has 4000 chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide, a chemical warfare agent and it kills six million people around the world each year.

It might take a 10 to 15 years, but your risk of ending up with a hole in the throat or dying from lung cancer is (almost) halved than that of a smoker.

Depending on the number of cigarettes you smoked, two decades of staying clean would have added more than 1.5 years of life and got down your risk of smoking-related cancers to the same level as that of a non-smoker.

Quitting smoking is a long, complicated affair with more downs than ups but like the Japanese say, success is about falling seven times and getting up eight times. It’s alright to get derailed but once you quit, you’re going to love the way you smell!

I guarantee it.

Looking for some inspiration to call it quits?

Read this: Yes, I Quit Smoking and it Was Damn Easy

(This article was first published on 31 May 2016. It is being reposted from FIT’s archives.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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