Smoking is usually started very early in life. So many people pick up smoking for many reasons. It could be due to peer pressure from friends, some claim it’s due to the weather conditions during the winter season. Others may admit that smoking made them more mature and helped them with stress. Over time you become so dependent on cigarette smoking. Despite claims of cigarette smoking as a mechanism of coping with stress or making you feel more mature; you smoke at the expense of your health. This article addresses the impact of cigarette smoking on our health and offers tips on how to quit smoking.
It’s nothing new as I’m sure we’ve heard several times the harmful effect of smoking. The warning is written on several cigarette packs ‘smokers are liable to die young’. You may have tried several times to quit, several failed promises to yourself that this is my last cigarette. Smoking has become your master and you can’t help but have regrets of having started smoking in the first place.
This is the relationship that many smokers have with the cigarette. After 20 to 30 years of smoking, you often tell yourself that cigarette could help more than having another person around. It’s one of your oldest and favorite friends, sometimes it’s your only friend.” But you’ve come to realize, that cigarette is, in fact, a very toxic friend Indeed.
Why tobacco has such a strong grip on you
Nicotine in tobacco smoke reaches the human brain about 10 seconds after the smoker inhales a puff. The nicotine releases several chemicals in our brain. And this produces the perception of pleasure and happiness, increased energy and motivation, increased alertness and vigor and increased cognitive arousal similar to that produced by heroine or cocaine.
It activates several areas of the brain leading to generalized brain activation, arousal, increased concentration and intellectual skills. Nicotine also causes enhanced memory and improved problem-solving behavior. It suppresses appetite contributing to smokers’ lower weight compared to nonsmokers.
Despite these attributes, tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals. 70 of them are known to cause cancer e.g. lung cancer which number one cause is Cigarette smoking. More so, smoking affects our autoimmune system, blood, heart, vision, bones, lungs and reproductive system.
The risk factors associated with the cigarette are indeed very broad and it’s due to this many broad reasons that you’ve probably considered quitting smoking.
Health effects of smoking on your body
Cigarette smoking has several harmful effects on the body. It has been associated with several untimely deaths in the United States. It is the single most common cause of cancer. Smoking causes cancer of the:
• Bone marrow and blood
It also affects your-
• Blood: causes increased blood pressure, thickened blood vessels
• Vision: nerve damage leading to blindness
• Reproductive system: preterm birth, still birth, ectopic pregnancy, erectile dysfunction.
• Heart: stroke, heart attack, coronary artery disease.
• Bones: low bone density, osteoporosis.
• Lungs: asthma, tuberculosis, pneumonia chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Nicotine in cigarette is about 8-10 mg and when you smoke, a total of 1-3 mg is absorbed by the body. This level can increase depending on the technique of the smoker. This eventually leads to nicotine addiction.
It is one of the most toxic dependence producing psychoactive compound overall. It acts by stimulating the reward center in your brain causing mood altering changes in your brain which are temporarily pleasing making you crave for more of it.
When you’re addicted to nicotine, you usually cannot stop using the substance despite several attempts to stop smoking.
Signs and symptoms of nicotine addiction
• You smoke and cannot stop
• Experience withdrawal symptoms during periods where cigarette is not available
• Continue smoking even in the presence of a disease
Withdrawal symptoms of Nicotine –
It usually begins within 24 hours of smoking cessation. The peak symptoms can last for days to weeks and cigarette cravings can last for years. Symptoms include:
• Lethargy, decreased arousal
• Disrupted sleep cycle
• Excessive hunger ( low blood sugar)
• Poor concentration
Nicotine replacement therapy
It is a treatment method to help people stop smoking. It uses products that supplies very low doses of nicotine to the body. These products do not usually contain the carcinogenic toxins which predisposes to the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. This therapy comes in several forms
• Nasal spray
• Skin patch
The main goal of nicotine replacement therapy is to cut down on cravings for nicotine and ease the symptom of nicotine withdrawal.
Best Quit-Smoking Tips
If you want to quit smoking, you need to be very motivated at the very least, how can you become motivated? You can do this by thinking about how much better you’d feel after quitting.
You will save a lot of money. A pack of cigarette a day is a lot of money spent cumulatively at the end of the year. You spend so much money on buying cigarettes and the worst part is you don’t even realize this.
You should get more joy out of life: quitting tobacco makes you feel better. You’re able to taste food better and exercise well, your sense of smell improves and you have more energy reserves for your daily activities.
Your health may improve after quitting tobacco: quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages as it decreases the many risk factors of diseases associated with smoking.
You will look healthier and younger when you are not exposed to the harmful effects of smoking.
Your family and friends will benefit: smoking hurts those around you. Passive smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from lung cancer and heart disease.
The brain is the power house of the body, it controls all our body functions. It contains nerve cells that must work together for the body to function normally. We’ve all been stressed at one point in our lives. Read More
Cigarette Quitting Tips and Techniques
If you want to conquer the bad habit of smoking, you may need the support of family, friends or anyone who will be genuinely supportive and patient.
Consider joining support groups and seek out those who have quit the smoking habit themselves. They will properly guide you on effective strategies that worked for them as sometimes the support of family and friends may not be enough.
Before you overcome the habit is smoking, you need to prepare your mind for the challenges that comes with it. Read on to find out how to quit smoking.
Medications as a strategy to quit smoking
Medications can be helpful if you want to quit smoking. But before you decide to take any medications, you need to discuss with a healthcare personnel. This will enable you to discuss the different medication options, associated side effects and how to manage them.
Many drug therapies work by increasing your chances of quitting smoking by reducing withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the medications for quitting tobacco have some potential side effects e.g. nausea, suicidal thoughts, depression. Nicotine replacement therapy is often used and also has its health risks.
One of the best strategies is to attempt quitting tobacco without the use of drugs as this reduces the chances of any potential side effects of drugs.
Prepare for the difficulties of quitting smoking.
Cigarette cravings usually peak within 3 days after your last cigarette and usually decrease after 2 weeks. During these trying times, you’ll feel a very strong urge to just light up one cigarette which can lead to even smoking the whole packet as a compensation for the days missed. When these cravings come up, do not do anything rash. Wait at least five to ten minutes and remind yourself why you decided to quit in the first place. Before you know it, the desire should pass.
There’ll always be withdrawal symptoms. You may find it very hard to stay awake or concentrate on a task. You may experience sweating, mood changes, anger, weight gain and even depression. Most of these symptoms often disappear after five to six weeks of avoiding tobacco. During the period of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you can: Read to Overcome depression
• Allow more time to sleep. When you’re asleep, you’ll not have the urge to smoke.
• Resort to drinking water and fruit drinks.
• Engage in physical activities
• You can practice deep breathing techniques
• Join a support group
• Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Avoid the triggers that make you want to smoke. E.g. if you’re more inclined to smoking while drinking, then it’s best to avoid drinking all together. If you smoke during the coffee break, you can always talk to a friend so as to distract you from smoking.
Remember your reasons for quitting smoking
The temptation will always come and when it does, you should always remember your reasons for quitting smoking. Visiting pubs and clubs might trigger a feeling of wanting to smoke. Visiting these places while trying to quit smoking will make it difficult to actually quit. Always remember that:
• Small amount of alcohol consumption can increase the pleasure derived from nicotine.
• Social drinking is often related to increased cigarette consumption.
• High levels of alcohol impair your judgment which might lead you to smoke.
Be selective in the company you keep. Avoid places where people smoke and stay away from people who may encourage you to smoke. It’s often easy to be a victim of peer pressure so always avoid peers who may tease you about the efforts you’re putting to quit smoking.
If you feel the urge to smoke, create a distraction for yourself perhaps by going for a walk with a friend, chewing gum, drinking water. Also fill your mind with positive and refreshing thoughts.
According to national alliance on mental health, 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide, that’s 5% of the world’s population. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. from ages 15 to 44.3. Read More
Different forms of Tobacco
All forms of tobacco are lethal as stated by the world health organization. Tobacco is used in many different ways. Death may result from any tobacco products and is linked to heart diseases and cancers.
Bidis: These are small, hand-rolled cigarettes. They deliver several times more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than do regular cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco: This includes chewing tobacco, snuff, and flavored gutkha used in Southeast Asia. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth. Smokeless tobacco use is every bit as dangerous as other tobacco use.
Kreteks, or clove cigarettes: These contain about 60 percent tobacco and 40 percent cloves. They usually deliver more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than do regular cigarettes.
Pipes: Smoking a pipe is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, for both habits can cause many of the same cancers and other diseases.
Water pipes (bongs, hookahs, narghiles, and shishas): With these devices, tobacco smoke passes through water before being inhaled. Nevertheless, the process may not reduce the amount of toxins, including cancer-causing agents, which get into the lungs.
Cigars: These are made of filler tobacco tightly wrapped in tobacco leaf or in paper made from tobacco. This allows nicotine to be absorbed through the mouth even if the cigar is unlit.
E cigarette is not been used as a replacement for other forms of tobacco products. “Click to read about the health risks of E-cigarette’
How to quit smoking
The first step is to decide to quit smoking. And then ensure to set an appropriate date to quit. Do whatever it takes to make sure your decision is final. Talk to friends and family about your decision to quit smoking and ask for their support.
Make a quit card. This card may contain your favorite quote that’s motivates you and your reason for quitting. Always ensure to carry this card around and refer to it several times a day.
When approaching your quit date, you can start by making some changes. These may include disrupting habits linked to your smoking e.g. if you smoke as soon as you get up each morning, go for a walk as soon as you wake up and then smoke afterwards. If you smoke during a meal or immediately after, try to chew gum instead and constantly work on breaking your smoking routine. Try to avoid places where people smoke and if you’re offered some cigarette, you can say out loud “No thanks. I’ve quit smoking.”
As your quit date draws closer, go to your local store and buy gum, nuts, and so on. Remind your friends and family of your quit date and how they can support you. Just before that day, do a major clean up by disposing your ashtrays, lighters, and cigarettes lying around your home, in your car or pockets.
A lot of people have succeeded in their quest to quit smoking and you can to. You can win the battle against smoking and as you do this, your health and happiness will surely return.
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