Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Smoking and Tobacco

Precautionary measures?

03/13/2008

Question:

I have smoked 2-4 non-filtered cigarettes a day for 10 years. I believe I have stopped (2 weeks now without). To what extent have I damaged my lungs, is it permanent and what (if anything) should I do to ensure I do not have cancer (not symptomatic according to lung cancer symptoms.) Also, how long can I expect withdrawal symptoms and when will my lungs be completely cleaned? Thank You!!

Answer:

First, let me congratulate you heartily for your success thus far in quitting one of the world's toughest addictions. As to your other questions about cancer, there is really no way to say. Everyone's body reacts differently to smoke exposure, nicotine and the hundreds of carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) found in smoke.
 
I infer that you are relatively young, and that is definitely on your side, as is your stated level of smoking. Nonetheless, you've likely done some damage to your lungs and your blood vessels. Your best bet is to avoid secondhand smoke and pollutants; keep your heart healthy with control of weight, exercise and cholesterol, as well as regular check ups with your doctor.
 
As to withdrawal symptoms, you should be through most of the acute withdrawal, but you are likely to have lingering cravings for months to years.  Keep in mind that most feelings of craving are transient, lasting perhaps 5-10 minutes. Just don't give in, as one cigarette will likely send you back down the road again.  If you want further assistance, the state of Ohio offers free telephone counseling at 800-QUIT-NOW.
 
"Well done."  Now stay off and take care.

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Rob  Crane, MD Rob Crane, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University