Quick benefits of quitting smoking: what happens in just 72 hours

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and it has been shown to also increase the risk of serious conditions, such as heart disease. But what happens inside us when we stop smoking? The benefits are surprising and, above all, visible even after just 20 minutes

Smoking can permanently damage your lungs, drastically increase your cancer risk, and become a significant financial burden over your lifetime. Despite these obvious drawbacks, millions of people continue to smoke.

Although smoking rates have dropped significantly in recent decades, experts are still striving to persuade more people to quit this deadly habit for good.

Let’s explore what happens to your body just 20 minutes after you stop smoking!

Benefits to the body after 20 minutes

Just 20 minutes after extinguishing your last cigarette, your heart rate will begin to calm down.

Nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco, increases heart rate by stimulating adrenaline release.

However, the effects on the heart might vary slightly depending on how many years you have smoked.

As explained by the American Heart Association, smoking over time can scar heart muscle and damage blood vessels, leading to an irregular or accelerated heartbeat, known as tachycardia.

This is why smokers are at higher risk of heart attacks.

If within 20 minutes of your last cigarette your heart rate starts to slow and normalize, within an hour, your blood pressure will drop to a healthier level. However, you will likely crave another cigarette.

Benefits after 8 hours

Eight hours after quitting, your oxygen levels will begin to recover as the carbon monoxide levels in your blood reduce by half.

Tobacco, which contains carbon, releases poisonous gas when burned; this gas replaces oxygen in the blood. Consequently, carbon monoxide prevents your lungs from functioning correctly and forces your heart to work harder.

This process also inhibits cells and tissues from receiving the oxygen they need, increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Benefits after 48 hours

If you go 48 hours without smoking, food will taste different—much more intense and flavorful. Why? Smoking can damage the olfactory nerves in the nose, responsible for smell and taste.

So, after 48 hours, your sense of taste and smell begin to improve, and by this point, all the carbon monoxide has been expelled from your body, and your lungs start to clear out mucus.

Benefits after 72 hours

If you manage to go 72 hours without smoking, you’ll notice it’s easier to breathe.

This is because your bronchi, the air sacs in your lungs that can be irritated and damaged by smoking, start to relax.

This feeling, along with all the other benefits of quitting smoking, will undoubtedly make you feel much more active and energetic.

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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