Lots of help for quitting tobacco
December 14, 2003
Yesterday, my son Ryan took me downstairs to wrap his brother and mother’s Christmas presents. ‘Tis the season for all of us. I think Santa Claus will come again this year. We are blessed.
As I am sitting writing this column, though, I think once again about smoking. The realization is that perhaps one of the best gifts my children will have is the encouragement to never smoke. Just as important is the gift of growing up without cigarette smoke around them. Perhaps that’s another reason to quit.
Here we go with Part 2:
Dear Doc: I’m finally ready. I know I need to do it. What can you do to help me quit smoking?
– Sick of Being Sick in Eagle
Dear Sick of Being Sick: Let’s look at what quitting will really do for you, taken from the American Cancer Society.
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Within 20 minutes:
n Blood pressure drops to normal.
n Pulse rate drops to normal.
n Temperature of hands and feet increase to normal.
Within eight hours:
n Smoker’s breath disappears.
n Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
n Oxygen level in blood increases to normal.
Within 24 hours:
n Chance of heart attack decreases.
Within three days:
n Breathing is easier.
Within two to three months:
n Circulation improves.
n Walking becomes easier.
n Lung function increases up to 30 percent.
Within one to nine months:
n Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decrease.
n Cilia that sweep debris from your lungs grows back increasing your ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, reduce infection.
n Energy increases.
Within one year:
n Risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
n You have saved over $1,000 if you smoked one pack per day.
Within two years:
n Heart attack risk drops to near normal.
Within five years:
n Lung cancer death rate for average pack-a-day smoker decreases by almost half.
n Stroke risk is reduced.
n Risk of mouth, throat and esophageal cancer is half that of a smoker.
Within 10 years:
n Lung cancer death rate is similar to than of a person who does not smoke.
n The pre-cancerous cells are replaced.
Within 15 years:
n Risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a person who has never smoked.
Impressive, isn’t it! So, how to quit? After the commitment has been made, behaviors habits changed and friends and family told, there is still that nicotine addiction. While it only lasts days to two weeks after the last cigarette is smoked, it can be pretty rough getting through it.
The right thing for you is the help that works. There is a variety of over-the-counter products geared to help change habits, calm the addiction focus on something other than the best friend (I mean cigarettes) you’ve just given up.
Prescription medications come in two flavors. There is a variety of nicotine replacement products and Zyban. The nicotine patches help increase your chances of quitting to 30 percent or better. The gum is especially good for people who chew tobacco. It is used by parking (like chew) between the cheek gum, chewing it after the nicotine flavor disappears. There are nicotine inhalers, which work well for those with a need to keep the hands busy.
With all of the nicotine replacement products, it is important to stop smoking before using them. Smoking in addition to taking some form of nicotine can actually lead to an overdose!
Finally, there is Zyban. It is actually the same medication as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin. It helps reduce stress relieves the nicotine triggers in the brain. People who use it have a 40 percent greater chance of quitting than going it alone. Talk to our doctor to decide which is best for you.
Whatever you decide, remember that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Don’t concentrate on your failure if something doesn’t work. Instead learn from it and get ready to succeed the next time.
New Years is coming, and there is no better resolution than doing something to improve your health. Make that resolution now and get excited to be a healthier person.
Some additional resources for help:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service National Institutes of Health
Boston University School of Public Health.
American Cancer Society
1599 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4251
National Cancer Institute
9000 Rockville Pike
Building 31, 4A-18
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
American Heart Association
7320 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75231
Office on Smoking and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mail Stop K-50 1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30333
American Lung Association
New York, NY 10019-4374
Good luck! I hope the spirit of the season stays with you!
Remember your health is your responsibility! Health is our greatest asset it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered don’t wait, call your doctor.
Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.