How Smoking Is Linked To Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, (BP) is when the arteries have blood pressure which is in a continually elevated state. Every time the heart beats, it pushes blood through the whole body via the circulatory system., i.e. the veins and arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed up against the Read more

The Escape Plan: Part Three

This is the third of a series of four essays written to help the smoker in their attempt to stop. If you are interested in reading the others in the series you can go to my profile on Happy Breathing and check them out there. Read more

Relapse: Working Through the Pain

"I'm worthless, pathetic and useless." 

These are some words that any person going through an addiction relapse may think of during the entire ordeal. These are the emotions that I go through as I struggle through some personal issues. With a broken e-cigarette and prohibitive prices for replacements, I've had no recourse but to smoke real cigarettes again specially at the height of some things that I have to face. There's one thing that I realized throughout this personal experiment: I'm still addicted to nicotine. Yes, you heard that right. For me, e-cigarettes do not cure the addiction. It merely replaces it with a perceived cure. The effects on different individuals may vary.

There comes a time in one's life when you struggle and fight with so many things. Problems left, right, front, back, top, bottom, inside and outside beset us like hovering mosquitoes. During these high stress moments when you feel that the world is on your shoulders, it's easier to succumb to any weakness. Mine is smoking. 

For me, smoking fills that void in time that lingers in the cusps of the whirlwind that is life. It's a moment for reflection as my body struggles with mental, emotional and psychological tension. Sometimes, I feel like there may be no way out of it. Sometimes, I feel that it is hopeless. But in it, I know that it is not. I cling to that belief like some sort of magical placebo that cures any psychosomatic illness. That is the power of belief. But I also know that belief and faith are always an ongoing struggle. They're a constant whirlpool of change, of victory and of defeat. 

If you're reading this now and you're like me, know that you are not alone. You can do it. You need to do it. You need to quit smoking. 

Life, though often hard and unforgiving, presents so many possibilities for joy and well being. There is literally a world of wonders to explore in good health. There are so many tiny precious moments that don't fit on a single blog post for you to experience. And they're all waiting for you to turn them into what is real. And they're all waiting to become a part of the unwritten chapter of your life. 

Yesterday, we succumb to our weakness in our weakest moments. Today, we shall try again. And if we fail, we shall try yet again tomorrow. We lose seconds in every battle lost, but never lose hope that we can make the best moments of our lives in perfect health. Never lose hope that you can stop smoking.

 

Creative Commons Image via Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Addiction Part Two

This the second in a four part series about smoking, its effects, preparing to quit, what it entails. and the effect quitting will have on your body. I am so proud of your choice and accomplishment so for and hope that this and the next two parts of this series will be of help to you. If you missed the first part you can read it HERE.

The addiction to nicotine has some very stark truths. Such as smoking being the leading preventable reason for disability, disease and death in the U.S. Think about that for a moment.

Remember your first cigarette? Tasted nasty, you coughed and it probably burned your throat. Then, after a while, your throat became numb to it because the pain receptors had been killed off. The rush of nicotine became a good feeling and you wanted to repeat it. There was no choice, it was a necessity.

The average long term smoker smokes at least one pack of cigarettes each day. Anywhere from four to fifteen puffs are pulled from an average cigarette which delivers one milligram each of nicotine to the brain. With twenty cigarettes to a pack and four to fifteen puffs each that means 100 to 300 doses of nicotine per day. In e-cigarettes the amount is anywhere from 0mg to 48mg. A pack of normal cigarettes has about 24 mg of nicotine in it. And with people sucking on the e-cig they may be getting more nicotine in a puff than those smoking a normal tobacco cigarette.

Nicotine is made up of several chemicals that has a powerful effect on the human body. It reaches the brain in about 10 seconds and then a chemical(dopamine)is released which will give the smoker a feeling of pleasure.( "Crack" and heroin effects you in much the same way) It seeps into the skin, mucous membranes and the lungs making its way to the blood vessels and the rest of the body. The function of the brain and your body changes making you feel both invigorated and relaxed. It increases blood pressure by releasing adrenaline. Your heartbeat speeds up and breathing becomes shallow.

You may eat less because nicotine blocks insulin release. This curbs your appetite and increases your metabolic rate so you burn more calories than usual. This isn't good as you may think it would be because it can increase the "LDL" or bad cholesterol. It is hardening your arteries and this will cause a stroke or heart attack later on. It's a waiting game.

Your health can be compromised further because of nicotine addiction by one or more of the following: diabetes complications, erectile dysfunction, emphysema, and Buerger's disease which is an inflammation of arteries and veins of the feet and hands. This could lead to amputation.

Over the years the amount of nicotine put in some brands of cigarettes has increased until they contain up to thirty-five times more free base nicotine than other cigarettes. This type is absorbed quicker by the lungs and brains than the average cigarette. It has even been referred to as "crack nicotine" because of how quickly it reaches its destination much like heroin or cocaine.

Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, frustration or anger, depressed mood, increased appetite, cough, insomnia, and in some cases chest tightness and constipation or diarrhea. Some of these will begin within a few hours of your last cigarette and peaking two or three days later. This can continue for days up to several weeks.

The seductive allure of cigarette smoking is something you think you can do just a little of but because of triggers and addiction to nicotine it becomes more and more of a need. It calms you. Makes you feel better. But, like all addictions, that doesn't last. And every couple of hours your bodies wants more. You end up making this a lifestyle choice and it could kill you.

 

I hope you will read the next two parts to this series. Your votes and comments are very appreciated.

 

The Habit: Part One

This is a four part series to help the smoker who wishes to stop understand the different areas of their habit, the addiction, an escape plan and the healing that comes after.

Cigarette Smoking. For many this is something you have been doing since your formative years. This means its become a habit; so deeply ingrained in your subconscious that you do it without even thinking. It has probably been going on for 20-30 years for many of you. It is a part of who you are.

People start smoking for a myriad of reasons. Some start when there are very young and do so because their peers are doing it or out of curiousity. Others due to stress or depression. And even others to help them jump the bridge between other addictions such as drinking or recreational drugs. They get angry, hungry, stressed, and what do we do? Grab a cigarette. Instead of reacting to the emotion or what their body is telling them they stuff it all away and smoke instead. Read more

Everyone’s Quitting On Monday!

When do most smokers think about quitting; New Year’s Day maybe, on their birthday perhaps? Actually, it’s neither of these. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medical revealed that the most popular day for would-be quitters is: Monday.

Researchers studied Google data from 2008 until Read more

What Actually Is This Stuff I’m Smoking?

In the battle to stop smoking it’s worth reflecting occasionally on what is actually in the smoke that we smokers inhale or share with those around us through passive smoking. Have a look at some of these ingredients and think – do you really want them pumping around your body?

Tobacco smoke contains around 4,000 different chemicals, many of them are poisonous and as we all know, some can cause cancer. Three of the main components of tobacco smoke are:

• Nicotine – a powerful, addictive drug which increases the heart rate, raises blood pressure and affects our mood and behaviour. It’s a sobering thought (or should be ) that nicotine is also used as an insecticide.

• Tar – which contains substances known to cause cancer and can also damage the lungs.

• Carbon monoxide – this gas takes the place of oxygen in the blood, making our lungs less efficient and stopping cells and tissues getting the oxygen they need to work properly. You may also recognise it as the poisonous gas found in car exhaust fumes.

There are a number of other chemicals in tobacco smoke which should also cause you to think twice before lighting up. These include:

• Benzene – a poisonous gas found in petrol fumes and linked leukaemia.

• Ethanol – commonly used in anti-freeze.

• Ammonia – used in many cleaning products.

• Formaldehyde – also used as an embalming fluid.

• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) – a cancer- causing chemical also found in diesel exhaust and other combustion products.

• Sulphuric acid – used in car batteries

• Hydrogen cyanide – an industrial pollutant

• Arsenic – do I need to introduce this one? 

But, not only are we smokers slowly introducing this unpleasant cocktail of chemicals into our own bodies, we are also sharing it with friends, neighbors, colleagues and our kids. Medical experts suggest that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke as it causes indoor air pollution, worsens illnesses such as asthma for sufferers, and also increases the chance of cancers and heart disease for non-smokers breathing in the fumes. It is also worth noting that passive smokers breathe in smoke from the end of a burning cigarette or cigar which contains more toxins and nicotine than mainstream smoke.  

Most of us realize that smoking isn't good for us. Our doctors tell us, our friends and family will tell us pretty much the same. But we carry on, either oblivious to the health risks or willing to gamble just because we need that hit of nicotine so many times a day. Take a look at some of those chemicals again though. And think about it.

 

Alternative Therapy – Give It A Try!

Everyone who has ever tried to quit smoking knows that it isn’t easy. There’s no quick and easy way of leaving the habit behind and not every method works for every smoker. But aside from the usual nicotine containing replacement options there are alternative therapies out there that just might work for you. Read more

Quitting – It’s All In The Mind!

A recent study claims that mindfulness meditation could help smokers cut down their tobacco intake and could even encourage them to quit altogether. In fact, results showed that those who underwent training in meditative techniques smoked less one month later. Mindfulness meditation focuses the mind on the here and now, helps relaxation and encourages the person to just go with the flow of their thoughts and physical sensations.  It's designed to help people to relax, concentrate on the current moment and, essentially, go with the flow of thoughts and sensations and encouragingly has been linked to a number of health benefits from cold and flu relief; hot flushes and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), not to mention healthy changes within the brain itself.

Before we all reach for the saffron robes and incense burner, I should point out that the survey was based on a sample of just five smokers who provided feedback following their experience, so the results could be merely coincidental. Researchers however remain upbeat. Study co-author, Michael Posner, who is professor emeritus at the University of Oregon no less, maintains that the effect of meditation depends upon the brain-state the participant is in at the time.

This latest study involved two groups of smokers; one group underwent two weeks’ training in mindfulness meditation whilst the remainder were trained in relaxation techniques. At the end of the two week period, smokers were given breath tests to gauge how much they’d been smoking. The relaxation group showed no change whereas the mindfulness meditation group showed a reduction of 60% in their smoking. Four weeks after the study, five of the smokers in the mindfulness meditation group confirmed that they were still smoking less.

Interestingly, none of the participants knew that the study they were taking part in was actually devised to measure their smoking habits pre and post training. Other studies suggest that meditation improves connectivity within the brain and that the areas of the brain linked to self-control become more active, making it easier to say no to that cigarette craving. Meditation also reduces stress and researchers reckon that this may be another reason for its success in helping smokers quit. Meditation, unlike drug therapy, has no known major side effects and, once the initial training has been paid for, is free!

Check out these sites for some inspiration;  http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22, http://www.shambhalasun.com/?option=content&task=view&id=2125

 

E-Cigarette Sales Now at $19 Billion

E-cigarette sales are expected to go beyond $19 billion in 2020 and can reach up to $25 billion. This is according to BBC.com in their article last September. Does this sound the death knell for big tobacco companies? Unfortunately, the answer may be no. Read more