Chronic smoking damages the airways by causing them to be inflamed and produce more mucus. It results in chronic cough and this is called chronic bronchitis. Smoking also causes narrowing of the airways. Over the years, the patient will have increased shortness of breath. The air sacs in the lungs will slowly be destroyed and this process is known as emphysema. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema together form the disease process of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD.
In addition, 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of lung cancer deaths in women are caused by chronic cigarette smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of other cancers including throat cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer.
Chronic smoking increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, leg ischemia and impotence. It causes accelerated skin aging, dementia, reduced fertility.
Long term benefits of quit smoking include:
Nicotine in the cigarettes is addictive. It binds to the brain within 10 second and makes a person more calm and alert. Continuous smoking on daily basis allows the person to enjoy this feeling. With time the person become addicted – he associates his daily routine with cravings to make sure he gets a stead supply of nicotine to his brain. The role of the cigarette becomes crucial in his life as the brain continuously looks for a nicotine fix.
Withdrawal symptoms occur when one attempt to stop smoking. They include irritation, anger, insomnia, concentration difficulties, anxiety, restlessness, dysphonia, decreased heart rate, performance deficits, cravings and headaches.
Motivation to quit varies greatly between countries and areas, due to different social and cultural climates.
Motivation is high in patients who recently have a serious illness of which smoking is a risk factor. These include heart attack, pneumonia and COPD exacerbation.
If a smoker is ready to give, up they can be helped with the correct treatment options and doctor advice with counselling.
In our specialist clinic, we have many patients who want to quit smoking and we are experienced in counselling and providing the correct medical treatment options. We also follow our patients closely to ensure that the quitting is successful.
The chance of succeeding in giving up smoking is 5-10% because nicotine addiction is very powerful. However, if given the best possible medical treatment and counseling, this can rise to 1 in 4.
A smoker can quit without help but it is much more difficult, and long-term abstinence is higher when the attempt is aided medically.
Medications that can help quit smoking: