Fighting the Urge to Smoke

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you could do for your health. Here is some helpful information and tips to help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms and hopefully help you quit for life!

Breaking your smoking habit is going to take time. Nicotine is the addictive ingredient in the cigarette, so when you stop smoking – like any drug addiction – you will experience withdrawal symptoms. While the physical withdrawal from nicotine only lasts a month, it can be uncomfortable, but the health benefits of quitting are immediate and powerful:

♥ Within 20 minutes your blood circulation will improve, your heart rate and blood pressure will lower – immediately reducing your risk of heart attack.

♥ Within 24-48 hours all the carbon monoxide will have left your body.

♥ Within a few days your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.

♥ Within 1 year your chance of a heart attack drops by half and within 10 years the risk drops to almost the same as a non-smoker.

Difficult as they may be, nicotine cravings only last 3- 5 minutes. The key is to try distracting yourself for a few minutes, like drinking a glass of water, going for a 5 minute walk or calling a friend. The craving will lose its power and be gone before you know it. Recent research shows that by using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or certain other drug treatments you can increase your chances of successfully quitting by as much as 50%. There is a lack of sufficient evidence on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people quit smoking.

Over the period of a year, a 20 a day smoker accumulates the equivalent of a mug-full of tar in their lungs! Developing a chesty cough or sore throat soon after quitting is often just your body’s way of cleaning your respiratory tract.

Increased anxiety, low mood, or irritability is common when you first give up smoking. These are temporary feelings and will ease after the first four weeks.

Be aware that it’s easy to replace the craving for a cigarette with food, so your goal should be to try and avoid weight gain by only snacking on healthy options.

Your sleep pattern may also become disturbed and it can take 2-3 weeks to settle. Try to relax and unwind before bedtime by reading a book or having a soak in the bath. Reduce your caffeine intake and try to increase your physical activity levels.

So, just to re–emphasis, withdrawal symptoms only last for 4-6 weeks, so try to stick to your quit plan, be patient, believe in yourself and you will win the battle over cravings.

More information and support to help you quit is available from the HSE QUITline on 1800 201 203, or from your GP, Pharmacist or Croí on 091 544310.


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