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What sorts of problems does smoking cause?

Smoking causes a range of problems in the short term and in the long term (cumulative damage).

Some of the short term effects include
  • Damage to the lining of the lung and killing the small hairs cells (cilia)
  • Raising blood pressure
  • Decreasing oxygen levels in the blood
  • Constricts blood vesssels
  • Irritates the lung and causes increased mucus production and airway constriction
  • Irritates the throat and nose
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness, nausea
  • Decreased appetite, taste and smell
  • Harmful to a foetus by causing growth retardation, spontaneous abortion, abruption placentae, placenta praevia, prmature rupture memberanes, preterm birth, chorioamnionitis and stillbirth plus a range of possible effects on th child as they grow up.
Some of the long term effects
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart attack, stroke, vascular problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Skin aging
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer of mouth, throat, lung, stomach, pancreas, bladder, cervix and other organs
  • Chronic lung disease, COPD
  • Leukemias
The damage caused by smoking is related to the number of cigarettes smoked each day and for how many years.

Are there any good bits about smoking?

Smoking causes some short term euphoria, improved concentration and mental performance and can suppress appetite.

What are the benefits of stopping smoking?

Within a week
  • Blood pressure and pulse return to normal, immediate risk of myocardial infarction reduces, cabon monoxide and oxygen level in blood return, taste and smell improve
1 to 3 months
  • Exercise tolerance improves, most nicotine withdrawl symptoms subside, cough reduces, clia regrow in the lungs, less infection risk in lungs
1 year
  • Risk of pregnany complications same as non smoker, excess risk of cardiovascular disease is half of that of a smoker
5 years
  • Risk of mouth, hroat and oesophageal caner half of that of a smoker
10 years
  • Risk of lung cancer 30-50% of a continuing smoker, risk of cancer of bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases
15 years
  • Risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke now same as non smoker

Why is it hard to stop smoking?

Ceasing smoking can be difficult because a habit and addiction has been formed. The habit relates to the use of cigarettes in your life, such as wake up have a smoke, have a coffee, have a smoke, get stressed, have a smoke etc. The addiction is driven by the nicotine effects.

What are the options for stopping smoking?

To stop smoking there must be a multi faceted approach.

You must be ready to stop. There is no point embarking on quitting if you’re not ready mentally.

You should get as much information as possible from QUIT Line and other sources.

We need to support both the breaking of the habit and the breaking of the addiction.

To break the habit, you are best having some sort of strategy in place. This may be something like drinking water, having a chewing gum or lollie. You may need to stop alcohol for a while, or stop going to the pub or hanging out with friends who smoke. You need to take time to plan this.

To break the addiction we can try and replace the nicotine and then decrease the levels over time.

We can also use medications to affect the brain to decease the need for smoking.

Successful quit rates (sustained off cigarettes) can be between 5-20%.

What is nicotine replacement therapy?

Replacing the nicotine can be very helpful. You should not smoke whilst on replacement therapy.
Nicotine replacement comes as patches, lozenges, inhalers, chewing gum and sublingual tablets.
Some people with heart problems cannot take nicotine replacement.

Combing gum plus patches is an effective technique. There are different strengths and a doctor or pharmacist can help chose the best strength.

What other medications are there?

There is a tablet called Bupropion that is taken daily for 9 weeks. The drug is commenced while the person is still smoking and there should be quit date in the second week.

A second tablet called Varenicline can be taken for a period of 12 weeks.

What symptoms can I feel when I stop smoking?

A range of symptoms can be experienced and are worse in the first 1-2 days.
  • Craving
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Tingling sensations
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
All of the information contained in this leaflet is designed to provide basic level education. It does not represent medical advice and no action should be taken as a result of the information contained within without discussing it with a doctor. Medical information changes rapidly and this content may be out of date and therefore incorrect. The content has been written with the intention of helping those who read it and specific medical terminology, complex and detailed information has been purposefully omitted. The author holds no responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this information. The content of this leaflet remains the property of Two One Five Melbourne Street Medical Practice and any usage, apart from personal use, must receive the authority of the owner.
©2016 Two One Five Melbourne Street Medical Practice