It’s not news that cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body in more ways than one. Smoking has been the cause of many diseases and generally just affects a smoker’s overall health. While cigarette smoking is the cause of nearly one in five deaths in the US, it is the leading cause of death that can be prevented—and that is through simply quitting smoking.

Why quit smoking?

Quitting smoking can change a smoker’s health drastically. For one, it will decrease one’s risk for lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, ulcers, and other serious health conditions. Smoking cessation can also improve one’s appearance as it eliminates the cause of stained teeth, dull skin, and wrinkles. Generally, smoking cessation just adds more years to a smoker’s life.

But while the solution to such smoking-related conditions is simple, quitting smoking is easier said than done for many.

What happens to the body when you stop smoking?

For people who have been smoking for years now, smoking can be addictive, and despite the desire to switch to a healthier lifestyle, the incessant cravings and withdrawal symptoms can turn someone off so easily.

The body can immediately experience significant changes within twenty minutes of not smoking. One’s pulse and blood pressure drops back to normal, and the limbs warm up to one’s usual temperature. Within eight hours, the amount of nicotine and carbon dioxide in the blood decreases to half, and oxygen levels get back to normal. During this time, cravings may start kicking in, usually lasting about five to ten minutes.

Within forty-eight hours, one’s sense of taste and smell improve. Ultimately, no trace of nicotine can be found in your body. However, this is usually the time when withdrawal symptoms are at their toughest. You may feel dizzy, hungry, anxious, or tired all the time.

It’s during this time that the temptation to stray from your goal is strongest, so find things or activities that will distract you from giving in. Give it two to three months, and you’ll have made it through the toughest part of withdrawal.

How do you start quitting?

Quitting smoking is a huge leap to take, so avoid putting pressure on yourself if you think you’re not doing well or if you have failed at quitting once. You can start by making a quit-smoking plan to keep you on track.

List down your reasons for quitting as this will serve as the foundation for your quit-smoking plan. Then pick a specific day to quit smoking. Picking a date too far in the future may let you lose focus, so choose a date within the next month, and mark it on your calendar.

As you prepare for your quit day, consult your doctor about medications. Your doctor may be able to prescribe you with treatments that can help lessen cravings in the future, such as nicotine skin patches, gums, or nasal sprays.

Patients who have other underlying conditions, such as heart disease, may benefit greatly from smoking cessation. Your doctor may identify the effectiveness of your quit-smoking journey by monitoring your heart activity through EKG sensors. But if you are consistent and religious in your goal, results should turn up just fine.

How do you stay quit?

Smoking requires physical and mental preparation. Many are not able to quit right away, and that’s totally okay. If this happens to be you, go back to your quit-smoking plan, and rely on the resources you’ve listed to help you successfully quit smoking.

Whether this be in the form of nicotine-replacement medications, support groups, or your doctor’s advice, focus on these means to ultimately reach your goal. If you fail, try again; the more you do, the more you are likely to stop smoking for good.