Quitting cigarettes is easier said than done, of course. However, the health benefits are so numerous — and start so instantaneously — that it is definitely worth a shot. Case in point: within 20 minutes of quitting smokes, your heart rate and blood pressure come down.
Now, a joint study headed by the World Health Organization has linked smoking to post-surgical complications.
Here’s how: Smoking impairs the flow of blood to essential organs. As the body recovers from surgery, it sets off a post-traumatic inflammatory response to fight infections which increases the need for oxygen and other nutrients. Smoking interferes with this process and causes post-surgical complications such as impaired heart and lung functions, and hinders the body’s ability to heal wounds.
Fortunately, quitting tobacco just weeks ahead of a procedure can lead to better outcomes: those who give up smoking at least four weeks before surgery have a lower risk of complications, and a better prognosis becomes possible after six months of quitting. On the other hand, the study found that smoking even one cigarette interferes with the body’s ability to transport necessary nutrients to every part.
Despite the evidence, it is difficult to give up smoking because it is an addiction. What can help is an iron will and a little bit of help to distract yourself just when the craving for a cigarette is strongest. Read on for some tips to get you started.
Tips to help you quit smoking
Quitting smoking is a process. It is unlikely to happen overnight and will require a combination of therapies – so be patient with yourself.
Smoking is addictive because nicotine releases dopamine in the blood which brings about a feeling of short-lived euphoria. The reward centre of the brain lights up, and the desire to replicate the feeling is why you feel the urge to keep smoking. It is also helpful to know that smoking does not actually ease stress or tension – the desire for nicotine is actually what excites the body and smoking simply soothe this urge. Here’s how how you can try and beat the urge:
1. Start with a plan: It can be daunting to quit smoking if it is a big part of your life. It is not just a physical addiction, but it is probably a part of your identity and social life as well. The most effective method to quit is a combination of medication and counselling. Nicotine replacement therapy, which slowly delivers nicotine to your body, is available as nicotine patches and gum – these can ease your urge to smoke momentarily. Starting therapy with a counsellor alongside this will also help you tackle the psychological urge to smoke. You are two to three times more likely to quit if you follow the evidence-based therapies recommended by your counsellor.
2. Understand which parts of your routine involve smoking: Smoking could be associated with office breaks, walks, meals, work – really anything. If you find that you have the urge to smoke during particular events, identify them as triggers. Distractions at this time will help -perhaps talking to a friend or watching a video on your phone will suppress the immediate urge to smoke.
3. Understand that urges don’t last: The urge to smoke does not last longer than 10 minutes. It is important to know that it will pass. Studies have shown that even 2-minute distractions can suppress habits like smoking.
4. Think about why you decided to quit in the first place: Was it a scary health event? Fight with your partner? This will help you maintain perspective.
5. Structure your plan around a life change: Studies have shown that those going through a positive life change such as a promotion or change in location are more successful in incorporating behavioural changes – like quitting smoking. This may be because your usual triggers are gone or you are simply more distracted. Therefore, the best time to quit may be when you are on the verge of something new.
6. Take help from a friend: Your social environment could be why you smoke. Social situations may demand smoking as a way to fit in and help with bonding. If you are trying to quit, tell your social group that you are serious, and if possible, to not smoke around you or offer cigarettes. You may also have a friend who is trying to quit and supporting each other through urges may help with the process.
The key takeaway is to always try to quit smoking once you have made up your mind. Even going a day without smoking or smoking less frequently should be acknowledged. While it is by no means easy, combination therapies are beginning to show more promise and counselling therapies are improving. Here’s wishing you luck!
Read our article on How to Quit Smoking for more actionable tips.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
Updated Date: Jan 21, 2020 16:24:43 IST