What Happens After You Quit Smoking:
Immediate RewardsWithin 12 hours after you have your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. The levels of carbon monoxide and nicotine in your system will decline rapidly, and your heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke.
Within a few days you will probably begin to notice some remarkable changes in your body. Your sense of smell and taste may improve. You will breathe easier, and your smoker's hack will begin to disappear, although you may notice that you will continue to cough for a while. And you will be free from the mess, smell, inconvenience, expense, and dependence of cigarette smoking.
Immediate EffectsAs your body begins to repair itself, instead of feeling better right away, you may feel worse for a while. It's important to understand that healing is a processit begins immediately, but it continues over time. These "withdrawal pangs" are really symptoms of the recovery process (see Withdrawal Symptoms and Activities That Might Help).
Immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience "symptoms of recovery" such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention, irregularity, and dry, sore gums or tongue. You may feel edgy, hungry, more tired, and more short-tempered than usual and have trouble sleeping and notice that you are coughing a lot. These symptoms are the result of your body clearing itself of nicotine, a powerful addictive chemical. Most nicotine is gone from the body in 2-3 days.
Long-range BenefitsIt is important to understand that the long range after-effects of quitting are only temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Now that you've quit, you've added a number of healthy productive days to each year of your life. Most important, you've greatly improved your chances for a longer life. You have significantly reduced your risk of death from heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and several kinds of cancernot just lung cancer. (Cigarette smoking is responsible every year for approximately 130,000 deaths from cancer, 180,000 deaths from heart disease, and 50,000 deaths from lung disease.)
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