The damage that tobacco causes to our health is not new to anyone. This addiction is very harmful to our health and those around us, and its consequences are not just in the lungs. Regular smokers are estimated to cut their life expectancy by ten years. All these data have made that more and more people do not consider smoking or who want to quit this habit after doing it for years.
For them, it may be good news to know that after quitting smoking, our lungs can strengthen and heal the injuries caused by so many years of addiction. However, this process is not immediate, nor is it the same in all cases. Do you want to know how long it takes for the lungs to clear after smoking? In the following FastlyHealarticle we will explain it to you in-depth.
Lungs recover after quitting smoking.
Cigarette smoke impacts many organs and functions of our body, but indeed the most visible and notable damage is the one that occurs in the lungs. The fact is that chronic smoking, with the permanent exposure of our lungs to tobacco smoke, the lungs’ cilia deteriorate. These are like hairs and protrusions found inside these organs and serve as a defense element against infections and foreign elements that could enter with the inhaled air. When smoking, the cilia are damaged, so our lungs lose the ability to stay safe from external pollutants and infectious agents. This is why smokers are more likely to get respiratory infections than non-smokers. On the other hand, the cilia are responsible for getting rid of the mucus or phlegm in the lungs; as a result of their deterioration, the phlegm accumulates inside, causing the typical chronic cough that many smokers use suffer. If the addiction is not stopped and smoking continues, those cilia will never recover, and these conditions will last a lifetime.
However, our body has the innate ability to heal, heal itself from the damage that has been inflicted on it. If we stop smoking, our lungs will gradually start to recover. Despite this, one must be aware that many other factors intervene and do not occur at the same speed in all ex-smokers. In some cases, the damage is so widespread that it is irrecoverable; in others, it will take longer, and in some, it can occur relatively quickly. Among the factors that intervene in the lung capacity to recover, we find:
- The years that person has been smoking.
- The number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
- The person’s age, when they started smoking, and when they quit.
- As long as you haven’t smoked.
- The level of involvement of the lungs.
- The general state of health.
- If you play sports regularly.
Although each case is different and different factors intervene, there are specific patterns that are similar in most people. Here’s how long it takes for your lungs to clear when you quit smoking.
How long does it take for the lungs to clear of nicotine?
To begin with, we are facing the wrong question since it is not the nicotine that mainly damages our lungs. Nicotine is the substance that causes addiction in our brain and nervous system, but paradoxically his life in our body is concise. An hour after having smoked the last cigarette, we have already eliminated all the nicotine from the body, which is why we already feel the need to smoke another. However, the smoke -with its harmful elements- can remain up to 10 hours and damage for much longer.
But more than putting ourselves to assess how long it takes for each toxin to leave our body, what should matter to us is the damage that each organ has suffered and how long it takes to recover from that damage. It is generally believed that after one year of smoking cessation, a person can almost completely regain regular lung function, regenerating the damage caused by years of smoking. A person who has smoked three packs a day for 40 years will take longer than a person who has smoked three cigarettes a day for 5, but the average is that.
Cleanse the lungs of tobacco
Beyond quitting tobacco, other factors to consider can help speed your recovery. If we want to clean our lungs and eliminate all the toxins that have accumulated in them, we must promote that fresh air enters and leaves, oxygenating our entire body. To do this, exercise regularly it’s essential. With it, we encourage our respiratory system to work, but we also help the cardiovascular system. Another benefit of cardiovascular exercises is that they activate our blood flow in the lungs, which allows them to regenerate more efficiently. On the other hand, they help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and nervousness, something familiar after quitting smoking, and prevent us from gaining weight by changing cigarette addiction for food addiction.
Lung cancer risk in ex-smokers
Even though every year the number of smokers in Spain is less, that has not been a sufficient reason for the cases of lung cancer to continue increasing. Even if you quit smoking, the risk of lung cancer does not disappear overnight, but the damage caused to the lung structure remains latent for a few years and can appear fatally once you have overcome the addiction.
But this does not mean that quitting smoking is useless; on the contrary, by quitting smoking, the risk of suffering from this type of cancer decreases by half; however, it takes a few years to reestablish normality and equalize the risk of a non-smoker. The risk decreases the longer the abstinence period, reaching normalcy ten years after quitting tobacco.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to How long it takes for the lungs to clear themselves after smoking , we recommend entering our Lung and respiratory tract category.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.