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Quit Smoking

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Quit Smoking

Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths among Americans, but quitting can be intimidating. It will take a long time to see improvements in health and wellbeing, but you will see real benefits faster. Health benefits begin to appear in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continue to improve.

Quitting smoking breaks the cycle of addiction and essentially signals the brain to stop craving nicotine. The sooner you quit, the faster you will reduce your risk of cancer, heart, lung disease, and other conditions related to smoking.     

Scientists have found links between smoking and numerous health conditions, including stroke, heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Researchers show that, with the right approach, it is possible to break this unhealthy chain and kick the bad habit once and for all.   

What happens when you smoke?

When a smoker inhales, the nicotine contained in the inhaled smoke reaches the brain via the bloodstream in seconds. It also quickly reaches muscle tissue, and a range of physical reactions take place, including the following: 

  • An increase in the heart rate (measured by your pulse rate)
  • Increased blood pressure causes small blood vessels to narrow and slows circulation, particularly noticeable in the hands and feet
  • An increase in tension in some muscles can be measured by testing hand tremors with a tremor-testing machine before and after a cigarette
  • An increase in stomach secretions and changes in brain activity
  • Smokers of all ages become short of breath and exhausted more quickly than non-smokers of similar age and fitness
  • CO binds with the haemoglobin in the blood, so instead of oxygen, haemoglobin circulates CO, meaning less oxygen is available to body organs and tissues. The heart must pump harder to ensure enough oxygen can get to all organs
  • Tar causes throat and lung cancer
  • Smoking affects those associated with smokers too

Smoking affects many parts of the body, both inside and outside. Some of the effects happen straight away, and others take longer.

Stop Smoking Treatments:

Many different methods have successfully helped people to quit smoking, including:

  • Systematically decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke.
  • Reducing your intake of nicotine gradually over time.
  • Using nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine medications
  • Utilizing nicotine support groups.
  • Trying hypnosis, acupuncture, or counselling using cognitive behavioural techniques.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):

Nicotine is a very highly addictive drug, and it’s the nicotine in the cigarettes that makes it so addictive. Nicotine replacement therapy releases the nicotine into the blood steadily and much slower.

NRT comes in different forms, including:

  1. Skin patches

Chewing gum (Nicotine gum is a type of chewing gum that delivers nicotine to the body. It is used as an aid in NRT. Gum should not be used less than 15 minutes after eating or drinking, as this will reduce absorption. Users are directed to chew the gum until it softens and produces a tingling or "peppery" taste. The gum is then "parked," or tucked between the cheek and gums. When the tingling ends, the gum is chewed again until it returns and is then re-parked in a new location)

Inhalators, which look like plastic cigarettes through which nicotine is inhaled

Tablets and lozenges, which you put under your tongue

  1. Nasal spray

Mouth spray Some smokers find it useful to combine NRT products. For example, smokers can do this by wearing the patches throughout the day and then using gum or an inhalator to help relieve a sudden craving for a cigarette. Most courses of NRT last eight to 12 weeks before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop. Most people stop using NRT altogether within three months, although heavy smokers may need to use it longer.

Side effects:

  • Skin irritation when using patches
  • Nicotine is not good for pregnant women and their baby
  • Irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray
  • Disturbed sleep, sometimes with vivid dreams
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness

Other available NRT includes gum, inhalers, and lozenges. Discuss with your health care provider what suits you best.

Non-Nicotine Medication:

Varenicline

Varenicline is the only medication available currently specially designed to help you quit smoking. It works by preventing nicotine from binding to receptors (parts of your brain that respond to nicotine), which prevents cravings and reduces the reinforcing effects of smoking.

One should try to quit smoking completely 7-14 days before the treatment. The medicine should be taken for 12 weeks as recommended.

Varenicline should not be used by:

  • Children and young people under 18
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • People with epilepsy
  • People with advanced kidney disease

Side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Unusual dreams
  • Increased appetite
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • Swollen stomach
  • Slow digestion
  • flatulence
  • Drowsiness

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is counselling or talking therapy that helps people change bad habits. It is most recommended for people with anxiety and depression and useful for other mental and physical health issues. CBT helps you deal with problems more positively by breaking them into smaller parts. Counsellors and other healthcare experts show how to change these negative patterns to improve your feelings. CBT aims to improve your state of mind daily.

The bottom line

Quitting smoking is beneficial for an individual’s health, and various tips can help. Your doctor may recommend medications to reduce cravings, while a few lifestyle modifications can boost motivation. Varenicline, nicotine replacement patches, and other aids to help quit smoking are available online at a very low price.  

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