Be a quitter – stop smoking

Medihelp

2021-08-03

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Smoking is a social habit, a stress reliever and an emotional crutch. It also causes a myriad of preventable diseases and deaths. Second-hand smoke exposure – when you don’t smoke but inhale someone else’s smoke – is equally dangerous and causes the same diseases.

Smoking facts:
  • 16,8% of adults older than 15 in South Africa smoke – 29,4% of men and 8,2% of South African women are smokers
  • 21,5% of South Africa’s youth between the ages of 13 and 15 use tobacco products, with 24,3% of boys and 19% of girls using tobacco
  • The greatest increase in tobacco use is among young women
  • Every year, 53 000 South Africans die from smoking-related illnesses
  • Every week, 653 men and 363 women die due to illness caused by smoking
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in South Africa

Smoking-related illnesses:
Smoking causes various cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smokers are also at greater risk of developing tuberculosis, some eye diseases and immune system defects such as rheumatoid arthritis.

How to quit:
  1. Set a date and hold yourself accountable. Tell family and friends that you are quitting and ask them to check up on you.
  2. Practise delay tactics. Postpone every smoke break with 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then half an hour.
  3. Log your success. Keep a diary of your daily progress and aim to reduce your number of daily cigarettes every few days.
  4. Avoid triggers. Don’t join friends on smoke breaks, avoid social situations that trigger smoke cravings and don’t carry cigarettes with you.
  5. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in South Africa
  6. Stay active. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine and substitute movement for some smoke breaks by taking a walk or jumping on a trampoline.
  7. Flush the toxins. Drink lots of fresh water – aim for at least eight glasses a day to help your body get rid of the toxins in your system.
  8. Find alternative stress releases. Join a health and wellness platform such as HealthPrint, Medihelp’s free online wellness programme for members.
  9. Stay motivated. Write down your reasons for quitting and put them up where you can see them often.
  10. Check in and share your success. Tell us about your quitting journey in the comments below or inbox us your story.
What happens to your body after your last cigarette?
  • 20 minutes
  • Blood pressure and pulse return to normal and bronchial tubes begin to remove bacteria from your lungs again.
  • 8 hours
  • Carbon monoxide levels in your body return to a lower level. High carbon monoxide levels inhibit oxygen delivery to the tissues in your body, causing tissue damage.
  • 24 hours
  • Your risk of a heart attack starts decreasing due to decreased constriction of the veins and arteries and increased oxygen levels in the heart. Nicotine levels in your blood decrease.
  • 48 hours
  • 48 hours Damaged nerve endings start to regrow. Senses previously dulled by smoking, such as taste and smell, start improving.
  • 72 hours
  • You’ll start breathing more easily and deeper. At this point, the bronchial tubes in your lungs start relaxing and open wider to facilitate the air exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen.
  • One week
  • Your chances of quitting permanently increase significantly. Smokers who successfully make it to the one-week mark, are nine times more likely to quit for good.
  • Two weeks
  • You’ll breathe and move easier due to improved oxygen levels and better blood circulation in your body.
  • One month
  • You will have more energy and experience less severe sinus problems and bronchial congestion. The fibres that keep your lungs healthy by reducing mucus build-up and protect against bacteria, start growing back.
  • Three months
  • If you are a woman, your fertility improves and if you get pregnant, your risk of giving birth prematurely decreases.
  • Six months
  • Your airways are healing from the inflammation caused by smoking and you will cough less often. You will also be less vulnerable to previous triggers such as social situations.
  • One year
  • Your health risks have decreased significantly.
  • Three years
  • Your risk of a heart attack is now the same as a person who has never smoked.
  • Five years
  • Your risk of getting lung cancer has dropped by 50% as your body replaces precancerous cells with healthy ones.

Sources:

CANSA

Healthline

List of Blogs

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