For those of you still thinking about smoking cessation or even considering starting smoking, here’s something to ponder: If you thought tobacco was only associated with lung cancer and heart disease, we have some bad news for you.
Current data has linked smoking to quite a few organ and system dysfunctions. Here’s a list:
• Central nervous system: Alzheimer’s dementia, strokes and multiple sclerosis.
• Cardiovascular system: Heart attacks, congestive heart failure, hypertension, atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease and poor circulation.
• Respiratory system: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease including emphysema, asthma, increased risk of lung infections and pneumonias.
• Metabolic or endocrine system: Diabetes, thyroid diseases, obesity, high cholesterol and a lowering of other vital hormone levels.
• Gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems: Inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer disease, gastro-esophageal reflux disease and urinary dysfunction.
• Mental health: Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and abuse of other substances both legal and illegal.
• Sensory: Dysfunction of the senses of taste, smell and hearing, macular degeneration and other causes of blindness and cataracts.
• Infertility and sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and erectile dysfunction.
• Bones, joints, skin and muscles: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, increased risk for infections overall, more allergies, slow wound healing, osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures, various myalgias or muscle aches and pains, psoriasis, and increases wrinkles, giving a more aged appearance.
• Pregnancy and fetal development: Miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, small baby size, and stillbirth, otherwise known as a dead fetus.
• Cancers including oral, throat, nose, esophagus, lung, pancreas, bladder, kidney, cervical, vulvar, penis and skin.
This is a partial list.
For those of you interested in quitting for the first time or the 20th time, we have some great news. Did you know that the average smoker trying to quit will attempt six to seven times before having success? Success is in getting help, good planning, patience and persistence.
A combination of behavioral and pharmacologic interventions are most successful; however, work with your doctor to design the best and safest plan for you.
These are some tips that may be helpful for smokers trying to quit.
• Set a quit date and stick to it.
• Avoid other smokers and smoking sections.
• Garner support from your family, friends and colleagues.
• Avoid alcohol, as tobacco and alcohol often go hand in hand.
• Get rid of all cigarettes and all smoking paraphernalia.
• Anticipate what challenges may occur, and make plans to overcome them.
• Always remember to ask for help.
Nicotine is a powerful neurological stimulant. When it is suddenly stopped, there can be significant withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy helps to alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms. It can be administered by various methods, such as nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray, and inhalers.
Bupropion is an antidepressant medication that has been used in the United States for years but only recently was approved for smoking cessation. It elevates dopamine in the brain, which brings about the feeling of euphoria, similar to nicotine. This helps reduce the smokers’ craving.
Varenicline is another prescription medication recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It acts by simulating nicotine as it partially attaches to the nicotine receptors in the brain.
The medications listed here may interact with what you are already taking or could make certain medical conditions worse, so please let your health care provider know all your current medications as well as previous and current medical problems.
The highest risk of relapse occurs within the first two weeks after quitting, so get regular close follow up with your health provider.
The Great American Smoke Out is Thursday, Nov. 20. Join others in kicking the habit. Also, remember that prevention is better than cure.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, check out these Web sites.
American Lung Association: www.lungusa.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: www.fda.gov
Arizona Smokers Helpline: www.ashline.org
This article should not be used as a substitute for seeing a doctor.