How the Body Heals Itself After Smoking - a Chart

The Basics: 

Healthy Living SignThe human body is an amazing machine.  No matter how much you abuse it with crappy food, lack of exercise, and a general beating it always manages to try to heal itself.  Nowhere is this more evident in relation to smoking.  Cigarette smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do to your body as it scars your lungs, restricts your breathing, affects your arteries and restricts heart function.  With all that said, as soon as you stop smoking your body immediately begins to repair itself.

For those quitting "cold turkey" the chart below (courtesy of WhyQuit.com) shows the typical progression of healing that a body goes through.  Each person is different, but these guidelines should give you hope if (and when) you decide to give up smoking.

Within ...

 
20 minutes Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.
8 hours Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.
12 hours Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.
24 hours Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
48 hours Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.
72 hours Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine.  Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the "average" ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase.
5 - 8 days The "average" ex-smoker will encounter an "average" of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be "average" and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.
10 days 10 days - The "average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days to 2 weeks Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
2 to 4 weeks Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician.
21 days Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine's presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
2 weeks to 3 months Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.
3 weeks to 3 months Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
1 to 9 months Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body's overall energy has increased.
1 year Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
5 to 15 years Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
10 years Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker (2005 study). Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day).  Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study), while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined. Your risk of developing diabetes is now similar to that of a never-smoker (2012 study).
13 years Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker (2006 study).
15 years Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.
20 years Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker (2008 study). Risk of pancreatic cancer reduced to that of a never-smoker (2011 study).

Return to the Health Survival Guide

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)