Most people smoke because they believe it relaxes them or gives them great relief from the stresses of life – something that’s quite untrue. But, the consequences of smoking are very real, severe, and lethal.
As you may well guess, smoking over the years and decades will increase the risk of developing various lethal diseases and pervasive disorders.
In this post, let’s take a look at what happens as smokers keep on consuming tobacco over the years.
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Effects of Smoking for 5 Years
After just five years of regular smoking, the damage to the body begins to accumulate, and some early signs of the habit’s impact on health start to manifest. At this stage, smokers are likely to experience the following effects:
Respiratory Complications: Persistent coughing, increased phlegm production, and a higher risk of developing chronic bronchitis become noticeable. The irritation caused by inhaling cigarette smoke damages the airways and leads to these respiratory issues.
Reduced Lung Function: The gradual deterioration of lung function results in shortness of breath and decreased physical endurance. This decline in lung health can make everyday activities more challenging.
Cardiovascular Risks: Smoking raises blood pressure, accelerates the heart rate, and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, which can culminate in heart attacks and strokes. Even after just five years, the cardiovascular system is significantly affected.
Physical Changes: Smokers often exhibit physical changes, including premature aging of the skin, a dull complexion, and yellowing of teeth due to nicotine and other harmful chemicals in cigarettes. These changes can be alarming and affect one’s overall appearance.
Effects of Smoking for 10 Years
As smokers reach the ten-year mark, the toll on their health becomes even more pronounced. The effects of smoking at this stage include:
Chronic Respiratory Diseases: The risk of developing chronic respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) significantly increases. Breathing becomes progressively more difficult and is often accompanied by a chronic cough.
Heightened Cancer Risk: Smoking is one of the leading causes of various types of cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, esophagus, pancreas, and bladder cancer. The longer a smoker keeps on smoking, the greater the risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.
Compromised Immune System: Prolonged smoking weakens the immune system, making smokers more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Recovering from illnesses becomes more challenging for long-term smokers.
Reproductive Issues: For women, smoking for ten years can result in reduced fertility and an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, such as miscarriages and premature birth. In men, smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction and diminished sperm quality.
Effects of Smoking for 15 Years
By the fifteenth year of smoking, the health consequences of smoking become alarmingly severe. The effects include:
Worsening Respiratory Conditions: A smoker’s quality of life after a decade and a half is significantly poorer. Respiratory issues such as COPD become more debilitating, making it increasingly challenging to engage in physical activities.
Cardiovascular Diseases: The risk of heart disease remains significantly elevated at this stage, leading to a higher likelihood of heart attacks and related complications. The cardiovascular system is under constant strain due to smoking.
Heightened Cancer Risk: The probability of developing various cancers continues to rise, with lung cancer being the most prevalent and life-threatening. Cancer treatment options become less effective at this stage.
Total Deterioration of Oral Health: Smoking for more than 15 years significantly increases the risk of gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Maintaining good oral health becomes increasingly difficult at this stage and may also lead to various permanent dental issues.
How to Stop Smoking for Good
It’s always a good time to stop smoking for good – even if you’re already decades into tobacco, it’s never too late. Here are the steps to help you immediately quit smoking and improve your health.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
NRT products (such as patches, gums, sprays, etc) are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may now be eligible for a nicotine prescription.
You need a nicotine prescription before you can purchase nicotine vaping products (NVPs). As a second-line solution, one requirement is that you’ve already tried and failed to quit smoking with a first-line treatment, such as NRT products.
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to puff on while having a drink with friends.
If your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP about this, or book a bulk-billed phone chat with an authorised prescriber of nicotine.
Visit Your Local Pharmacy
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Over 2,200 pharmacies across Australia hold these products in-store, but any pharmacy can order these in for you if they don’t currently stock them.
Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
Can I Still Quit After 15 Years of Smoking?
Absolutely! Even after 15 years of smoking, quitting can bring about significant health improvements. Here are some brief benefits:
After 6 Days: Within just six days of quitting, blood pressure begins to normalize, and the carbon monoxide levels in the blood decrease, allowing more oxygen to reach vital organs.
After 1 Year: After a year smoke-free, the risk of heart disease decreases significantly. Lung function also starts to improve, making breathing easier.
Beyond 1 Year: Having quit smoking over the years, the risk of various smoking-related diseases continues to decline. The body has an incredible capacity to heal itself when freed from the harmful effects of smoking.
The effects of smoking over the years are significant and can cause irreparable long-term damage to the body. The good news is that even if you have smoked for more than a decade, you can still get in good shape after deciding to quit.
If quitting smoking feels quite difficult for you, you can always seek help from experts who completely understand what you’re going through.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.