Pulmonologist Urges Smokers to Quit

Pulmonologist Urges Smokers to Quit

From breathing problems to cancers, the list of smoking-related diseases is extensive. Many conditions are progressive and wreak havoc on the body before a person dies. Rahul Challapalli, M.D., pulmonologist, urges smokers to quit regardless of their age.

Even if my patient is 75 years old and has been smoking for 50 years, I tell him there are still benefits to quitting, Dr. Challapalli says.

He shares some promising physiological effects of quitting smoking:

  • Your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet return to normal within eight hours.
  • Your blood oxygen level increases to normal and carbon monoxide levels drop to normal within 24 hours.
  • After the first 72 hours, damaged nerve endings start to regrow and your sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability have peaked.
  • Within two to four weeks, blood and circulation in your gums and teeth are similar to a nonuser.
  • Between three weeks and three months, your heart attack risk starts to drop and your lung function begins to improve.
  • Within one year, any smoking-related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath decreases; and your body s overall energy increases.
  • After five years, your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke drop to less than half that of a smoker.
  • After 10 years, your risk of stroke declines to that of a nonsmoker.
  • After 13 years, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30-50 percent of that for a continuing smoker. Risk of death from lung cancer has declined to almost half if you were an average smoker smoking one pack per day. Risk of cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas has declined. Risk of developing diabetes for both men and women is now similar to that of someone who never smoked.
  • After 20 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who never smoked.

When it comes to smoking cessation, you can try patches, gum, inhalants and electronic cigarettes, Dr. Challapalli says. It often takes a few times of trying before it sticks, but I remind my patients that nicotine is a drug and there are physical and psychological aspects to quitting. To be successful requires the desire to quit, as well as willpower, support, looking at triggers and changing habits and behaviors. Withdrawal from nicotine is difficult and there are side effects, but nothing is worse than continuing to smoke.


“Even if my patient is 75 years old and has been smoking for 50 years, I tell him there are still benefits to quitting,” Dr. Challapalli says.

Learn The Effects of Second-hand Smoke

Smoking not only affects the smoker, secondhand exposure affects others in the household, too. Children who are younger than 1 year of age and who have one or both parents who smoke have an increased incidence of breathing problems, respiratory infections and asthma. Sidestream smoke from the unfiltered tip of the burning cigarette emits more carcinogens and increases the occurrence of cancer and other health problems for those living around smokers.

Lung Damage: Men vs. Women


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Rahul Challapalli, M.D.
Lee Physician Group
5216 Clayton Court
Fort Myers, FL 33907

*An outpatient department of Lee Memorial Hospital



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