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Trying to quit smoking?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Do you still have the urge to light up even after committing to quit smoking? Dr. Arvind Kate has some advice

Anytime is a good time to quit smoking, but even after committing to quit smoking, do you have the urge to do so?? Believe it or not, even certain places and food can at times spark an urge to smoke. May 31 was No Tobacco Day, and if you are still trying to quit smoking, here are some factors you should be aware of that can trigger the urge to smoke.

WHY MUST YOU STOP?

Smoking contributes to about one-tenth of total deaths caused by cardio-vascular disease in the world, which results in almost almost million deaths a year owing to smoking. After quitting, the blood pressure and pulse return to the normal rate and the circulation of blood improves to a great extent. Within a few hours of quitting, the oxygen in the blood increases and the chances of getting a heart attack dip.

WHAT TRIGGERS THE URGE?

Factors that trigger the urge include

Peer pressure, which needs to be blamed for this vulnerability.  

A heavy meal;

Stress is the major cause;

Many people have a habit of smoking before heading to washrooms.

Nicotine levels drain completely after you wake up in the morning because there has been a long gap of eight to nine hours. If you really want to conquer the urge to light up immediately, brush your teeth so the minty toothpaste can make you feel fresh and stop the urge to smoke. Its stimulating properties help suppress the urge to light up.

 Stress and a negative mood are added triggers. Instead, go in for some breathing exercise and meditation. Sipping cold water with a straw releases dopamine and brings pleasure effects and wards off the negative mood.

As a smoker, you get used to having a certain level of nicotine in your body. You control that level by how much you smoke, how deeply you inhale the smoke, and the kind of tobacco you use. When you quit, cravings develop when your body wants nicotine. It takes time to break free from nicotine addiction. Also, when you see people smoking or there are other triggers around, you may get nicotine cravings. Cravings are real. They are not just in your imagination.

MANAGE THE CRAVINGS

Here are some tips for managing cravings

Remind yourself that they will pass.

Avoid situations and activities that you used to associate with smoking.

As a substitute for smoking, try chewing on carrots, pickles, apples, celery, sugarless gum, or hard candy. Keeping your mouth busy may stop the psychological need to smoke.

Try this exercise Take a deep breath through your nose and blow out slowly through your mouth. Repeat 10 times.

THE FIVE A’S

There are 5A’s to quit smoking

Ask Ask them about smoking; why do they smoke?

Assess readiness to quit How do you feel about your smoking habit?

Advice Advising them to quit.

Assist Discuss the benefits of quitting and risks of continued smoking.

Arrange Plan the follow-up.

Nicotine replacement products are effective treatments that can increase the likelihood that someone will quit successfully. For instance, the nicotine patch is available over the counter (without a prescription). A new patch is worn on the skin each day, supplying a small but steady amount of nicotine to the body. The nicotine patch is sold in varying strengths, usually as an eight to ten-week quit-smoking treatment.

Also nicotine gum is available. When a person chews nicotine gum and then places the chewed products between the cheeks and gum tissue, nicotine is released in the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth.  To keep a steady amount of nicotine in the body, a new piece of gum can be chewed every one or two hours.

There are also nicotine inhalers, nicotine lozenges and nicotine nasal spray. Long-term use of nicotine replacement products has not been associated with any serious harmful effects.

Quitting smoking requires a strong determination. One should make a date to give up and stick to it! Throw away all your tobacco, lighters and ashtrays. Try to change your routine and avid smoke-promoting triggers.

Dr. Arvind Kate is a Pulmonologist at Zen Hospital, Chembur

What about electronic cigarettes?

Is vaping a good alternative to smoking? Maybe not

E-cigarettes are replaceable or refillable cartridges or containers that that contain nicotine, chemical flavours and solvents. When you inhale, or ‘vape’, it involves putting negative pressure on the device, which triggers a battery to heat the liquid. This is atomised into an inhalable vapour. Such cartridges can contain variable amounts of nicotine—upto 16 mg. There is usually enough fluid for about 250 ‘puffs’.

How do they work?

There are three main aspects to an e-cigarette. It contains a vaporisation chamber/ atomiser, a battery and a liquid cartridge which has the nicotine, chemical flavouring and other compounds. As you ‘smoke’ the cigarette—inhaling on the tip—a valve will open to allow fluid into the chamber. This is heated with the help of the battery, vaporises and enters the lungs.

Are they safe?

Anything that contains nicotine is bound to have some side effects, but experts say it is wiser to use nicotine patches or gum than it is to use e-cigarettes.

There’s no doubt, however, that giving up smoking altogether is best.

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