What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking?

A look at recovery, from the inside out
Benefits of stop smoking

It’s a well-known fact that smoking is bad for you. But did you know that within the first 30 minutes of quitting smoking, your body starts to repair itself? 

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It’s true! Your energy level increases. Your risk of dying from lung cancer gets cut in half. Those are just samples of the wonders your body can do when it comes to healing itself from tobacco use. 

Pulmonologist Humberto Choi, MD, explains how your lungs – and the rest of your body – begin recovering beginning in less than a half-hour after you quit.

20 minutes 

  • You stop polluting the air.
  • Your blood pressure and pulse decreases.
  • The temperature of your hands and feet increases.

8 hours

  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal.
  • Oxygen levels in your blood increase.

24 hours

  • Your chance of heart attack decreases.

48 hours

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  • Your nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine.
  • Your ability to taste and smell begins to return.

72 hours

  • Your bronchial tubes relax.

1 to 3 months

  • Your circulation improves.
  • Your exercise tolerance improves.

1 to 9 months

  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Your overall energy level increases.
  • Cilia regrow, increasing your lungs’ ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce infection.

1 year

  • Your risk of heart disease decreases to half that of a current smoker.

5 years

  • Your risk of stroke is reduced to that of someone who has never smoked.

10 years

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  • Your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
  • The incidence of other cancers – of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas – decreases.

Quitting will change your life — for the better

The benefits of quitting smoking go beyond decreasing your risk of different types of cancers or stroke. By quitting, you’ll stop burning a hole in your wallet from buying cigarettes or other tobacco products, plus you’ll be able to taste and smell your favorite dishes and scents. It’s possible you’ll be able to notice a difference in your sense of taste and smell in the first few days after quitting tobacco.

While there are a plethora of positives that come out of quitting, it does take some work to get to that point. 

“Two to three days in, your withdrawal symptoms will be at their worst,” says Dr. Choi. “Hang in there, they should subside entirely in a few weeks.”

A strong support system, creating a quit plan and staying motivated can take you a long way.

“Most smokers try three times before successfully quitting,” he adds. “Don’t give up. Even if you’ve been a lifelong smoker, it is never too late to quit.”

No matter how you decide to get help, consult your doctor for a smoking cessation program recommendation or request an office visit with a provider online. You supply the determination and your doctor can help determine which smoking cessation method will work best for you.​

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