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chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
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Lung Recovery After Smoking
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How Long Before Lungs Return To Normal after Smoking

A question often asked by smokers after they quit is: How long will it take for my lungs to return to normal after I stop smoking? Or will my lungs ever return to their pre-smoker state of health? Also of concern to the smoker who has recently quit is that they often develop a persistent and troublesome cough within a few days of smoking their last cigarette. In fact this is a good sign. The airways are no longer under the paralysing and restricting influence of tobacco smoke. The cough reflex comes into its own and starts to loosen and remove accumulated mucous and smoke induced debris from chronically clogged lungs. Natural lung cleaning processes kick into operation and begin to perform their normal functions.

Natures 'Chimney Sweep'

After 10 months of quitting smoking overall lung function will have improved dramatically and most of the smoke induced congestion will have been expelled. By this time the cilia in your respiratory tract will have renewed. These hair like projections act as the lungs 'chimney sweep' and help to clear the respiratory tract of mucous and particles that would otherwise settle in the lungs.

Decrease in Lung Cancer

After a year of quitting the risk of developing lung cancer will start to significantly decrease. The good news is that if you continue to stay smoke free for 10 years then your risk of lung cancer is reduced to about half. The really great news is that if you can remain a non-smoker for 15 years then your risk of lung cancer is almost the same as if you had never smoked. However, the relative risk of lung cancer will never quite return to the level experienced by the non-smoker.

Decrease in Smoking Related Disease

Risks of contracting other smoking related lung diseases will also decrease with time. These include emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, if you are already suffering from emphysema then quitting smoking will not offer a cure for this progressive and chronic condition.

Try Breathing without Lungs

The lungs are perfectly designed for their normal function. They extract oxygen from the air and transport it to the circulation from where it is distributed to every living cell in your body. They also collect the waste gas carbon dioxide from the circulation and expel it into the atmosphere. Lungs were never designed to be exposed to the relentless toxic brew that is tobacco smoke. The fact that lungs can tolerate and cope with this assault, even after many years, is a testament to the resilience of this remarkable organ.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

This article has concentrated on how the lungs recover after you quit smoking. The lungs are just one of many organs affected by the smoking habit. Smoking impacts negatively on every tissue within the body, no cell is spared. Smoking has been shown to be a causative agent in a whole host of other cancers including pancreatic cancer and leukaemia to name but two. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. Again, as with lung disease, the risk of suffering and dying from other smoking related diseases is significantly reduced by long term smoking abstinence.

Quitting smoking remains the most significant and important single life style change for improving your quality of life and ultimately increasing your life span.


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