“Government warning: cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”
Not a new thing to hear over the radio or the television. Smoking is bad. Smoking does kill. What people don't understand, though, is this: once a person has started this habit, it’ll take a long time and a whole lot of willpower to get rid of it.
Smoking and What it Does to Your Kidneys
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, smoking kills about 480,000 Americans each year. 41,000 of these cases are due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
What’s even worse, an estimated 26.8% of smokers in the US are aged 45 years and above. This is really alarming because the more we get older, the more we are susceptible to various diseases caused by this kind of abuse to our body.
One such disease, according to the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), is End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
The kidneys maintain the balance of fluids within our body, aside from filtering waste products. That balance is disrupted when you smoke; your blood pressure is increased while the blood flow is reduced. The blood vessels tighten, as well. Not only that, it also causes the pancreas to slow down its insulin production. Less insulin = more glucose (or sugar) in the blood.
Combine all these, and what do you get? The loss of your kidney functions.
Do you know how difficult it is to be a patient with ESRD? Read about it and the other stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) here.
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How to Quit, Though?
That’s the next problem, isn’t it? The “how”.
People, even our own loved ones, usually think, “Well, just don’t smoke today. That should start you quitting, right?” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. But former smokers know better.
That’s why the CDC started Tips from Former Smokers, or Tips, its first-ever paid national tobacco education campaign that “profiles real people who are living with serious long-term health effects from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.”
Part of the campaign’s educational advice is for smokers create a “quit plan” which, if you are a smoker having difficulties with quitting, you can do with the following steps:
1. Choose your quit date. Smokers usually pick a date within two weeks to quit to have enough time to prepare. You, as a smoker, are advised to choose a date where you won’t be busy or tempted to smoke, like night-outs with friends and such.
Encircle your quit date in a calendar and put it where you can see it every day as a reminder.
2. Inform your loved ones. Support from family and friends is always a great help in quitting smoking. Let them know of your quit date and tell them how they can help you with achieving it.
3. Get rid of smoking reminders. Cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays should be put permanently away from your home or even workspace. Cravings can also be triggered even when you smell cigarettes, so it’s best to stay away from other smokers, too.
4. Always think about why you want to stop. Maintaining a good reason to stop smoking will be greatly helpful in motivating you to quit for good. In your case, try and think about how it will help your kidney health.
5. Determine what your smoking triggers are. Think about the things that cause you to start bumming a cigarette. List them down, then write the ways on how you can avoid these triggers.
6. Find ways to cope with the cravings. Nicotine withdrawal can be a pain, but developing strategies to cope with that can help you ease into quitting. Consult with your physicians or other health professionals for advice on medications and other means of coping.
7. Find places where you can seek help. There are support groups that can help you when the going gets tough, especially on the first few weeks of quitting. It can be your family, loved ones, or even helplines, which you can find in the Tips website.
8. Reward yourself. Set milestones for quitting your smoking habits like going to the movies, having dinner dates, or other smoke-free activities.
Quitting can become easier with the right assistance and support. My advice, start it as soon as possible, not just for your kidneys sake, but for your entire health as well.
If you want, you can click here to see a more detailed quit plan + helplines and other services from Tips.
Burden of Tobacco Use in the US - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Build Your Quit Plan - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/quit-plan.html?s_cid=OSH_tips_D9400
Everything you need to know about nicotine - Medical News Today: