My Dirty little secret

It should have been one of the best experiences ever but catching my breath and feeling the tightening of my chest I realised that if I didn’t make a choice to quit then it would be made for me. Not many people knew about my Dirty little secret because I only did it at home or out after a few drinks.

I was a social smoker, or so I thought but this social smoking meant I was often smoking more in a small period of time than my husband who was a regular smoker.

I could no longer hide it and I thought I may possibly not live through the day when we were on holiday as a whole family down South in Western Australia exploring the wonderful town of Denmark and on a boat tour of the Denmark river. The boat had stopped so that the passengers could stop for morning tea and those who wished could go on a steep walk through the hills to the ocean. Our children had raced ahead and I battled to even make it over the hill. By the time I reached the rest of my family they had been waiting for a good 10 minutes and I was battling to breathe , the feeling in my chest was excruciating.

It was the wake up call I needed , looking at my family I realised then and there that I needed to stop kidding myself. I quit that day and have never been tempted to touch a cigarette since. 2 years later my husband quit too. He hasn’t smoked for 5 years now. Was it easy ? No but so worth it.
Here are some great tips from Sally at Health Insurance Comparison.

Quitting Smoking Tips

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things that you can do for their health. The positive effects of stopping smoking start to occur within hours of having your last cigarette and can add years to your life expectancy.

The Health Risks of Smoking

Experts are always warning that smoking is very bad for your health but you might be surprised to know just how many problems it could potentially cause. It’s estimated that 2 out of every 3 deaths of smokers are directly related to their habit. Some of the health issues that smoking is known to trigger or exacerbate include:

Cancer: Smoking increases your chances of developing a wide range of cancers and is the most preventable cause of many cancers. Lung cancer is the obvious one but smokers are also more susceptible to cancers of the mouth and throat, bladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas, stomach, oesophagus and larynx.

Cardiovascular problems: Developing cardiovascular problems such as Coronary Heart Disease, heart attacks, stroke and damage to the blood vessels and arteries are all more likely if you smoke.

Lung problems: Smokers are more likely to develop pneumonia and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Pregnancy problems: Women who smoke while they are pregnant can lose their babies through miscarriage or stillbirth. Smoking can also increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.

Men and women are equally at risk of smoking related dangers and contrary to popular belief, you are not “safer” if you smoke fewer cigarettes. Any degree of cigarette smoking is dangerous and will increase the chances of developing serious illness or dying prematurely.

Did You Know …?

“Most people choose to go completely “cold turkey” once they decide to stop smoking. This can seem incredibly daunting but it’s usually the most effective option. Cutting back gradually will still carry health risks and many smokers find that it doesn’t put them in the right mindset to quit, compared to suddenly ditching cigarettes for good”

The Effects of Passive Smoking

Tobacco smoke includes a whopping 7000+ chemicals, with more than 50 of these having confirmed links to cancer. These nasties can also irritate the eyes, nose, lungs and throat and lead to respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. For people that already suffer from these type of health issues, cigarette smoke can make the symptoms worse.

The harmful effects of smoking aren’t limited to just the smoker themselves; your second hand smoke can be very dangerous for the health of other people. The majority of cigarette smoke cannot be seen to the naked eye but it will linger in a room for hours without dispersing, even with open windows. By breathing in your smoke, the people around you have a significantly higher chance of developing lung cancer and cancers of the throat and voicebox – even if they have never smoked.

Children that are exposed to second hand smoke from a young age are a greater risk of developing respiratory problems and asthma, and can be more likely to die from cot death.

Top Tip …

“When cravings strike, try to distract yourself with deep breathing or finding something else to do until it passes”

Help to Quit Smoking

Smoking is an addiction and when you first quit, your body will miss its regular hits of nicotine. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and strong cravings for a cigarette. Nicotine Replacement Therapy can help with this by releasing small amounts of nicotine into your bloodstream (but not as much as you would get from smoking and without the toxic nasties). It’s available in various forms including patches, gum, sprays and tablets.

When you first quit, the urge to smoke can be all consuming. As hard as it may be, it’s crucial not to give in to the cravings as they will usually go away after around 5 minutes.

See if you can spot patterns with your cravings. Being stressed is likely to trigger a trigger but they may also occur on nights out, during work breaks and other situations in which you would have previously smoked. Look for trigger patterns and try to find other ways to fill your time or distract yourself.

If any of your friends or family smoke, see if you can get them on board to quit alongside you for moral support. If they’re not keen, at least ask them to respect your decision to stop smoking by not lighting up in front of you so that this is one less trigger to deal with. They can also support you by ignoring the inevitable irritability that you’ll demonstrate when you’re craving nicotine!

You might think that you’re completely on your own when it comes to stopping smoking but you can get some support to make the battle easier.

If you’re really struggling with the urge to smoke, speak to your doctor. Prescription medication can be given in the short term to help with withdrawal symptoms.

Some health funds offer Living Well (or similar) benefits on Extras cover, which can include support for nicotine replacement therapy to help you to quit smoking. The limits are usually quite low and there is typically a 6 month waiting period before you can claim for it. Not all health funds offer this but it’s worth checking whether you have access to something like this on your policy if you already have Extras cover.