Health Benefits to Expect During Your First Few Months Smoke-Free

Physical Improvements You Might See up to 3 Months After Quitting

The benefits are just beginning between two weeks and three months of quitting smoking. Major physical improvements are occurring that should encourage any new ex-smoker that you are on the right track.

Heart Attack Risk and Circulation

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and the number one killer of smokers. Nicotine increases the level of adrenaline in a smoker's bloodstream, and this, in turn, elevates blood pressure by causing blood vessels to constrict and heart rate to increase.

The risk of a heart attack is reduced within just 24 hours after you stub out your last cigarette.

Smoking cessation alleviates the stress cigarette smoking places on the heart and circulatory system quickly, which is great positive feedback for new ex-smokers. You may notice a positive change in blood pressure readings and the return to a normal heart rate very soon after quitting.

Lung Function Increases

Improvements in lung function are dependent on overall lung health, but many people will experience better lung function (defined as forced expiratory volume in one second) and less bronchial sensitivity during the first few months of smoking cessation. In fact, you might notice it's easier to climb stairs without becoming winded after just two weeks smoke-free.

Tiny structures called cilia start regrowing in your lungs. Cilia help to remove tobacco residue and environmental pollutants that are breathed in. This will assist your body in fighting off colds and other respiratory infections more effectively.

Some new ex-smokers worry about a new cough that begins after smoking cessation. It is often due to the presence of cilia in the lungs once again. That said, if you develop a cough that you're concerned about, schedule a visit with your healthcare professional for a checkup.

Lung Function Decline Slows

Researchers believe that smoking cessation stops the decline in lung function for most ex-smokers, including pathological and inflammatory changes that occur in the lungs due to tobacco smoke.

In cases of advanced emphysema, lung decline may not be halted following smoking cessation, but its progress will be slowed.

Brain Rewiring Is Underway

Within a month of quitting tobacco, receptors in the brain that have been sensitized to nicotine start to return to normal. This helps you to break the cycle of nicotine addiction.

Skin Tone Improves

Some research has been done on how skin smoothness, coloring, brightness, and elasticity are affected by smoking cessation. It appears that positive changes may occur in all of these during the first three months of smoking cessation.

Nicotine Withdrawal Subsides

The worst of the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal begin to let go between two weeks and a month smoke-free. Following that, the focus shifts to learning how to decipher and reprogram the psychological urges to smoke that are associated with daily life. From getting up in the morning, to eating a meal, to dealing with a difficult event or celebrating a happy one, a surprising number of activities in our lives trigger psychological cues to smoke.

It is important to note that an urge to smoke originating in your mind can cause a physical reaction in your body, such as a tightening in the stomach or neck. It can be easy to misread these cues and think you are still in the midst of physical withdrawal long after nicotine has been cleared from the body.

As a smoker, you learned to respond to just about everything with a cigarette. As an ex-smoker, you must learn to respond in healthier (and more accurate) ways.

Pay attention to the thoughts running through your mind when smoking urges surface. They will help you diagnose the cause (trigger) and from there you can choose an appropriate response. For instance, if you are feeling stressed, take a breather and go outside for some fresh air. Or, if you're hungry, have a snack.

A Word From Verywell

Education about what to expect when you stop smoking is a necessary part of a successful quit program. When you know what may be coming as you move through the process of recovery from nicotine addiction, you'll be better able to maneuver the bumps along the way without losing your balance.

Throw yourself into learning everything you can about nicotine addiction, and the process of quitting tobacco. The investment will yield benefits to your quality of life beyond what you can imagine.

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