Health Corner : Don’t let Your Lungs and Health go up in Smoke!

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Health Corner | Islamic Magazine | Carolina MuslimsNajeeb Karimi, Family Practice

CMC Cabarrus Family Medicine

5435 Prosperity Church Rd

#2200, Charlotte,NC, (704) 863-9830

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of several major diseases and there are an estimated 400,000 deaths that occur annually in the US. Second-hand smoking causes an additional 40,000 deaths each year; so if you are not smoking but someone in your family does, then that person can put YOU at risk for many diseases. Smoking can cause non-fatal afflictions as well such as osteoporosis (brittle/weak bones), skin wrinkling, stomach ulcers, impotence and erectile dysfunction along with many pregnancy complications. While cigarette and cigar smoking is the most often discussed; waterpipe/hookah smoking is associated with lung cancer along with many other respiratory diseases and it causes obstructive lung disease.

So … Why Should I Quit?

1. The first and foremost reason you should quit smoking is because many Muslim scholars have ruled that smoking is Haraam.

2. Smoking doubles the risk of heart disease; the risk of heart disease can be cut by half in one year of quitting and blood circulation will improve.

3. Smoking causes COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and chronic cough. Lung damage done by smoking is NON reversible but at least you can reduce further damage and quitting will improve lung function by 30%.

4. The risk of lung cancer is much higher for smokers than for non-smokers, quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of lung cancer within 5 years. Also after five years, you reduce risk of mouth, tongue, esophagus and throat cancers by half.

5. Smoking increases the risk of diabetes, teeth and gum diseases, infections like TB, pneumonia, meningitis, flu, and common cold. Smoking also causes chronic bad breath as the toxins linger in your lungs; so stop smoking and save yourself from the embarrassment of having a stinky mouth!

6. Some benefits of quitting are almost instant; your blood pressure becomes normal after 20 minutes and carbon dioxide levels in the blood returns to normal within 24 hours. Your senses of smell and taste improve within 48 hours.  Within just a few months of quitting you will see improvements in issues with coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and troubled breathing.

7. Save money by quitting! The average smoker spends over $1500 per year in cigarettes alone; that coupled with the added healthcare costs, added insurance premiums and other invisible expenses leads the average smoker to spending closer to $10,000 PER YEAR all up in smoke!

So … How do I Quit?

Set a quit date to make it a goal instead of just a passing thought.  Tell family & friends that you are quitting and tell them the date so they can hold you accountable. Nobody is pretending that this is easy; you should anticipate the hard time you’ll have with cravings and withdrawal symptoms but keep your goals and reasons in mind. Common withdrawal symptoms include trouble sleeping, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, frustration, trouble concentrating and even depression. This is why you need a support system in your friends and family to help you through the withdrawal phase so that you can reap the rewards of quitting.

There are many ways to minimize the withdrawal symptoms; the best way is to start exercising or make your exercise regular and to keep hard candy or gum nearby so that you can use it to satisfy a craving. The reason exercise is important is because it will offset a lot of the withdrawal symptoms and it will prevent the average weight gain of 3-6lbs that most smokers get upon quitting. You should also avoid triggers that make you smoke, like locations that you used to smoke at or activities that you associate with smoking.  Most importantly, stay away from smokers until you’ve kicked the habit and no longer feel the cravings.

What Kind of Treatment Options do I Have?

Many people are able to quit “cold turkey” but frequently smokers need help in kicking the habit.  There are behavioral counseling therapists that can help; some may use hypnosis, acupuncture and herbal remedies.  There are over-the-counter nicotine replacement options such as nicotine patches, gum, spray, lozenges and even inhalers are available (it is dangerous to smoke and consume these products at the same time). Consult your doctor for prescription meds if therapy or over the counter options fail. The newest trend in quitting us the use of electronic cigarettes because they have fewer toxins and you can control the level of nicotine in the mix; however the FDA warns to be careful since this is not a nicotine or cancer-free option and can be just as addictive as tobacco.

Quitting the dangerous (and haram) habit will set a standard as a proper role model for your children and other family members. Children have the tendency to mimic the behaviors they see. Therefore, a family member that smokes will directly affect the child and may cause them to be a smoker in the future. For your health and the health of your children, its best to quit the habit before it becomes theirs as well.

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