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What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?

author image Alia Butler
Alia Butler holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis, concentrating in mental health, and a Master of Arts in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University. Currently, Butler is a freelance writer, penning articles focusing on mental health, healthy living and issues surrounding work-life balance. She is the principle/owner of ALIA Living, LLC, providing residential interior design services, professional organizing and life coaching.
What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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Smoking is an addiction and your body makes changes when it tries to overcome an addiction. These changes can be immediate and uncomfortable, such as symptoms of withdrawal, while others cause improvements in overall health and well-being.


What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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When you first quit smoking you will experience withdrawal symptoms because your body is no longer receiving the amount of nicotine it was used to. Symptoms of withdrawal usually begin within hours of your last cigarette, peaking about two to three days later, and can continue for a few days or up to several weeks. Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, strong cravings, depressed mood, frustration or anger, increased appetite, insomnia, cough, chest tightness and constipation or diarrhea.

Early Effects

What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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Short-term benefits of quitting include decreased heart rate and blood pressure within 20 minutes of quitting, carbon monoxide blood levels drop to normal after 12 hours, circulation improves and lung function increases two to three weeks after your quit date.

During the first nine months smoke free, your coughing and shortness of breath will improve, and the tiny cilia hairs in your lungs will regain function, allowing your body to handle mucus and clean your lungs, reducing your risk of infections. Also, you will begin to experience the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

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Long -Term Effects

What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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During the next 15 years, your body will begin to repair itself and your health will improve. After year one, your chance of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent. After 5 years your risk of stroke becomes equal to that of a non-smoker and after 10 years your risk of lung cancer among other cancers is reduced by about 50 percent. Fifteen years after you quit your risk of coronary heart disease becomes equal to that of a nonsmoker. Quitting will help to slow the onset of wrinkles, and will make you much less likely to experience the premature aging of your skin and yellowing of your teeth and fingers that are characteristics of aging smokers.


What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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It has been estimated that as a smoker you lose close to a decade and a half of your life to your addiction. If you quit by the age of 30, you may halt the health risks associated with smoking, and if you quit before 50 you drastically reduce your chances of dying early as a result of cigarettes. People who continue to smoke suffer from diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

Quality of Life

What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Smoking?
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All of the diseases caused by cigarette smoking negatively impact your quality of life, long before you die. Your body becomes limited in what it can do. Smoking makes it harder to breathe, get around, work or play. Therefore, after you quit your quality of life will improve because your body no longer be limited by the health problems incurred as a result of your addiction.

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