You probably know that smoking is bad for you. But you may want to dig deeper and find out how it actually affects you and your body. Here are some basic information you may or may not know.
Nicotine is a drug that is found naturally in tobacco and it’s as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, smokers become physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to this substance, causing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. In that sense, a number of studies have shown that to quit, smokers must deal with both the physical and mental dependence.
When you inhale smoke, nicotine is carried deep into your lungs where it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. After it’s in, nicotine affects many parts of the body, including heart and blood vessels, hormones, the way body uses food (metabolism), and your brain.
There are a number of factors that affect how long it takes the body to remove nicotine and its by-products. In most cases, regular smokers will still have nicotine or its by-products, such as cotinine, in their bodies for about 3 to 4 days after stopping.
How nicotine “works” for smokers
Nicotine causes pleasant feelings and distracts the smoker from unpleasant feelings, making the smoker want to smoke again. It also acts as a kind of depressant by interfering with the flow of information between nerve cells. And of course this “trend” continues with smokers tending to smoke even more cigarettes as the nervous system adapts to nicotine. At some point, the smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and then keeps smoking to keep the level of nicotine within a comfortable range.
So when you finish a cigarette, the nicotine level in the body starts to drop and you want to smoke again. If smoking is postponed, you may start feeling irritated and edgy. And as you keep postponing smoking (trying to quit), the nicotine withdrawal symptoms appear, in many cases leading quitters back to smoking. Speaking of withdrawal symptoms, here are some of the best known ones:
- Dizziness (usually lasts only 1 to 2 days after quitting)
- Feelings of frustration, impatience and anger
- Sleep disturbances, including having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and having bad dreams or even nightmares
- Trouble concentrating
- Restlessness or boredom
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Constipation and gas
- Cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip
- Chest tightness
- Slower heart rate
Other substances in the cigarette smoke
Nicotine is just one piece of the puzzle as there are other chemicals in cigarette smoke that may act with nicotine to make it even harder to quit smoking. For instance, substances called harman and norharman may affect monoamine oxidase (a brain chemical) though that’s still being studied.
Smoking vs other medicines
Smoking could make your body get rid of some drugs faster than usual. So when you quit smoking, it may change the levels of these drugs. Though it’s not truly withdrawal, this change can cause some problems and add to the discomfort of quitting. It’s advised that you ask your doctor if any medicines you take need to be checked or changed after you quit.
Hopefully some of the things you’ve learned here will guide you to the quitting path. And this program could help you out. Check it out and let me know what you think…