So it’s been a little while since you smoked any tobacco, and you’re feeling more and more comfortable. No matter how long it’s been since you quit, it’s understandable to start wondering how long it will take for your body to begin to heal itself, or if you’ve done any permanent damage.
The truth is, smoking any number of cigarettes could do some irreversible damage, which is why it’s best to never start in the first place. The following timeline should give you an idea of how your body will heal throughout the quitting process, though it’s based on the ‘average’ smoker (around a packet a day), so some time periods will vary.
On average, most smokers have about three ‘cue-induced cravings’ a day at this point, but they will each pass within a few minutes. Cravings might feel severe, but they’ll subside on their own eventually. If you’re carving grooves into your desk with your fingernails though, this is where nicotine-replacement aids and e-cigarettes will come in particularly handy, and stop you from falling at one of the first hurdles.
Cravings will have subsided significantly by this point, the circulation of blood to your mouth and teeth will also be the same as someone who’s never smoked. Gum disease, tooth decay and persistent mouth ulcers are very common in smokers, as the lack of circulation stops the gums from healing as quickly as they should do.
The risk of a heart attack is now declining and lung health and capacity is on the up. Circulation throughout the body will also have improved dramatically, and that chronic cough smokers often get should have gone almost entirely.
Your breathing will have improved dramatically at this point, partly because the cilia in the lungs will have regrown. Tobacco and the chemicals associated with it kill the cilia, which are essential for keeping the lungs clean and air moving through them properly. Energy levels should also be dramatically different too!
Your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack is now half what it was when you were smoking.
Your risk of diabetes is now equal to a non-smoker, as tobacco reduces your receptiveness to insulin.
Unsurprisingly, the number one cause of lung cancer is smoking, and at the ten year mark your risk is half of what it was (providing you smoked around one pack a day on average). The risk of other cancers, such as mouth and throat have also declined.
After not smoking tobacco for a significant period of time, the risk of stroke is now that of a non-smoker, and some statistics show that your risk of lung cancer will be reduced to the same as someone who has never smoked.
There are so many incentives to quit tobacco, no matter how old you are! If you need some inspiration, just remind yourself of how resilient the human body is and look at this timeline – your health will start to improve from the moment you stop, so make that moment today!