Stop smoking – this is how it works!

Cigarette is broken

If you smoke, you expose yourself to great danger. Toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke damage the respiratory system and find their way through the body to every organ. The lungs and cardiovascular system are particularly affected. Regular smoking can result in incurable diseases and is associated with a significant reduction in the quality of life. Asthma attacks become more frequent and the symptoms worsen.

Smoking and COPD. 90% of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) smoke or have smoked in the past. If one is ill with COPD, each further cigarette favors a rapid progression of the illness and increases the symptoms.

In addition to nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar, each cigarette contains about 4.000 other substances, which, among other things, promote the production of a viscous mucus that can no longer be removed by the lungs’ cleansing system. The pollutants remain in the lungs and attack the mucous membrane, which becomes inflamed and swollen. This results in further constriction of the bronchial tubes, and the oxygen supply to the body increasingly deteriorates. In chronic respiratory disease, smoking quickly leads to a severe deterioration of lung function and – depending on the severity – also to physical limitation.

The decisive step

Smoking cessation cannot lead to a cure for an already existing COPD or asthmatic disease. The goal is to prevent progression of the disease and reduce symptoms. Smoking reduction is not an alternative to quitting smoking: Those who only reduce their tobacco consumption instead of quitting completely cannot expect a reduction in symptoms or an improvement in lung function.

– Passive smoking is also a risk factor for respiratory diseases.

– Nicotine, which is absorbed with tobacco smoke, is a drug with a high addictive potential.

– Smoking patients with COPD show a particularly high degree of dependence, which is also reflected in the inhalation pattern – they inhale deeper and faster.

– A withdrawal concept that includes both drug and psychosocial support proves more effective than "unattended" withdrawal.

– It is always worthwhile to stop smoking – regardless of age.

In mild to moderate COPD, quitting smoking leads to stabilization of lung function. Lung function is determined, among other things, by means of the one-second capacity FEV1. This is the largest possible amount of air that you can forcefully exhale within one second. The FEV1 value can be measured as part of a lung function test.

Development of lung function over the course of life

A decrease in lung function and an accompanying decrease in FEV1 is a natural, age-related process. This process can be seen in the upper, yellow area in the following figure. Here is the lung function of nonsmokers or people who are not susceptible to the effects of smoking. The solid dark red line, on the other hand, shows how quickly and severely lung function declines in smokers, even at an early age. It is clear from the dotted lines to stop smoking at age 45 or at age 65 that lung function deteriorates less rapidly. Meaning: It’s never too late to quit smoking!

The most important basis is your motivation

In order not to relapse, especially in the first phase of smoking cessation, it is essential to be clear about one’s own motives. Take a few minutes and answer the following questions:

– Why exactly do I want to stop smoking?

– Which factors play a decisive role for me (z. B. Health, finances, family, environment, desire for more self-determination, overcoming an addiction)?

– Is there a specific reason for my decision to stop smoking?

– What has made me hesitate so far? What has changed in the meantime?

– Do I think I will have to give up anything if I stop smoking? Or can I appreciate it as newly acquired freedom?

– What might happen if I quit smoking? What do I fear? Also, always keep in mind the many benefits of quitting smoking to motivate yourself: Reduction in shortness of breath, improvement in blood pressure levels, reduction in sputum, cough and shortness of breath, reduction in susceptibility to infection, reduction in risk of heart attack, reduction in risk of stroke, reduction in risk of cancer.

Learn from relapses! Don’t give up on your plan to become a non-smoker right away if you do weaken and reach for a cigarette again. Try to use your relapse as a source of experience! Think about the situation that led to it – and how you can deal with it differently in the future.

After the last cigarette

Even if your body can recover after years of smoking – it takes a while.

After 20 minutesYour blood pressure normalizes and blood circulation improves again.

After 12 hoursThe level of carbon monoxide in the blood returns to normal.

After 2 to 3 monthsYour circulation improves and lung function increases.
After 1 to 9 months: Coughing fits decrease, shortness of breath and fatigue are reduced. The cilia of the lungs recover, and mucus can be cleared more easily. The lungs are able to cleanse themselves of foreign substances to a greater extent – and this also reduces the risk of infection.

After 12 months: The risk of coronary heart disease is now half that of a smoker’s.

After 5 yearsAfter 2 to 5 years, the risk of stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker. The risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is reduced by half.

After 10 years: The risk of dying from lung cancer is only about half that of a person who still smokes. The risk of laryngeal and pancreatic cancer decreases. After 15 years: The risk of coronary heart disease is back to the level of a non-smoker.

With withdrawal symptoms, your body signals that it is beginning to rid itself of nicotine. It only takes 2 to 3 days, yet it takes months for you to get used to not smoking a cigarette again. Therefore, during the first phase of your smoke-free period, you may be struggling with the following problems: Sleep disturbances, irritability, lack of concentration. You feel out of round, are restless, just feel bad and depressed. And you are likely to have a bigger appetite.

In mild to moderate COPD, abstinence from smoking leads to a Stabilize lung function. In the first year after smoking cessation, even a slight improvement in lung function may be noticed. One in three smokers with mild to moderate COPD can be prevented from developing severe or very severe COPD in the following three years by stopping smoking.

Tobacco cessation in patients with COPD is associated with a reduction in cough, sputum and shortness of breath and has a positive effect on airway hyperresponsiveness.

Younger smokers with high cigarette consumption benefit most. Patients who quit smoking also have measurable reductions in hospital admissions for COPD. This in turn has a positive effect on the mortality rate.

Tips for quitting smoking:

– The time for the last cigarette should be within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

– Keep yourself busy so you don’t have to think about smoking all the time.

– Drink as much as possible. Always provide yourself with something to drink: z. B. Water, diluted fruit juices, tea.

– Reward yourself! Use the money you would otherwise have spent on cigarettes and treat yourself to something nice.

– Move more. A walk relaxes and lifts your mood.

– Make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you have a craving for sweets, you can resort to sugar-free chewing gum or sugar-free sweets.

– Avoid situations that you associate closely with smoking. Drink z. B. Instead of coffee, prefer a cup of tea and avoid an environment where there is a lot of smoking.

– Deliberately redirect your attention to something else when cravings overtake you. Such attacks last only a short time and pass.

– Be clear about the importance of withdrawal symptoms. They signal to you that your body is beginning to recover from the stresses of smoking. Withdrawal symptoms usually disappear after a short time.

– Nicotine from cigarettes can be replaced with medication or other aids that can ease withdrawal symptoms. Get advice from your doctor or pharmacist!

– Be steadfast. Don’t allow yourself "just the one cigarette" – on either a good or bad note or mood.

Fast or slow?

Basically, there are two approaches to quitting tobacco: the Immediate cessation of nicotine or slow cessation. No matter which approach you choose: Involve family, friends and acquaintances in your plans, and ask for their support!

Point closure method: Set a specific date from which you will no longer smoke. Throw away all cigarettes and banish all smoking paraphernalia. Don’t change your smoking behavior before this day.

Reduction Method: Reduce your cigarette consumption continuously. You decide in which steps you give up cigarettes.

Use aidsThe following aids can make it easier for you to quit tobacco: medications, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nicotine nasal sprays. This involves supplying your body with a certain amount of nicotine without burdening your organism with further harmful substances from a cigarette. Before using the aids, it is advisable to check with your doctor about possible side effects.

Tobacco cessation programsThis is a combination of psychological, medical and drug measures. Cessation programs are usually conducted in several group or individual sessions by a specially trained expert. This method has been shown to be the most effective for COPD patients. Check with your doctor to see if he can recommend a particular action to you.

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