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What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking?

Apr 19, 2024

Quitting smoking is a monumental decision that can lead to a cascade of positive changes in your overall health. The effects of quitting smoking extend far beyond the immediate relief of not inhaling harmful substances. But specifically, what happens inside your body when you quit smoking, and what are the short- and long-term benefits of this lifestyle change?

Short-term benefits

Improved circulation

“Within hours of quitting smoking, your body begins to repair itself,” said Nicholas Roy, D.O., pulmonologist at Inspira Medical Group Pulmonary Vineland. “Nicotine constricts blood vessels, leading to improved circulation within just 20 minutes of your last cigarette.” This increased blood flow benefits the heart and enhances oxygen delivery to vital organs and tissues.

Enhanced lung function

The respiratory system undergoes significant changes in the short term after quitting. Coughing and shortness of breath may initially increase as the body expels mucus and toxins. But within a few weeks, lung function improves and breathing becomes easier.

Reduced carbon monoxide levels

Carbon monoxide, a harmful gas in cigarette smoke, binds to hemoglobin in the blood, limiting its ability to transport oxygen. “Quitting smoking reduces carbon monoxide levels, allowing oxygen levels to return to normal,” said Dr. Roy. This shift is critical for the proper functioning of organs and tissues.

Long-term benefit

Decreased risk of chronic diseases

The long-term benefits of quitting smoking are profound. The risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and various cancers significantly decreases over time. The risk of heart disease begins to drop just one year after quitting.

Healthier skin

Smoking accelerates the aging process and contributes to premature wrinkles. Quitting smoking promotes better blood flow to the skin, which provides essential nutrients and oxygen. Over the long term, this improves skin health and gives you a youthful appearance.

Reversal of cellular damage

“Smoking causes cellular damage throughout the body,” said Dr. Roy. “When you quit, the body's repair mechanisms kick in, gradually reversing the damage caused by smoking. This includes the repair of DNA and the reduction of inflammation.”

The decision to quit smoking initiates a remarkable journey toward better health. Short- and long-term benefits contribute to a profound transformation in the body, emphasizing the resilience and regenerative capabilities of the human system. As the saying goes, the best time to quit smoking was yesterday, but the second-best time is today.

Inspira offers comprehensive pulmonary care with an experienced team of pulmonary specialists to evaluate, manage and treat a range of lung conditions from asthma to lung cancer. When you’re ready to quit smoking, Inspira’s Quit Center is ready to help with free smoking cessation services offered by certified tobacco treatment specialists. Inspira

Topics: Pulmonology, Lung Cancer