If you have recently quit smoking, you have taken a very important first step in controlling your health. If you are thinking of quitting, you may be wondering what the benefits are. Whichever group you join, there are common concerns: Can you clear your lungs after quitting? While there is no quick fix to getting your lungs back to normal before you start smoking, there are things you can do to help your lungs repair themselves after your last cigarette. Let’s look at some ways in which you can help your lungs to “cleanse themselves.”
Can You clear your lungs after quitting?
Once you have quit smoking, you may be tempted to “clean up” your lungs to remove toxins. Fortunately, your lungs cleanse themselves. They start that process after smoking your last cigarette. Your lungs are an amazing organ that, in some cases, has the capacity to repair itself over time. After you stop smoking, your lungs begin to slowly heal and regenerate. The speed at which they are treated depends on how long you smoke and how much damage there is.
Smoking causes two types of permanent damage to your lungs:
In emphysema, small air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli, are destroyed, reducing the surface area of the lungs. The lungs cannot exchange the oxygen your body needs.
With chronic bronchitis, the small airways leading to the alveoli become inflamed, preventing oxygen from reaching the alveoli. Collectively, these conditions are known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Are there natural ways to clean your lungs?
Although there is no way to reverse scar or lung injury that may be caused by years of smoking, there are things you can do to prevent further injury and improve your lung health.
According to Dr. Keith Mortman, chief of orthopedic surgeons at the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C., a smoker may have a buildup in the lungs. This buildup can continue after quitting. Coughing works by helping your body get rid of excess sputum, opening those tiny airways, and opening them up for oxygen.
Mortman also emphasizes the importance of exercise. Staying active can be one of the best things you can do to maintain and improve your lung function. Just walking outside can help keep those air sacs in your lungs open. If the bags remain open, they can exchange oxygen and take it where your body needs it.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but avoiding tobacco smoke, dust, mold, and chemicals will promote good lung function. A reliable source has found that exposure to filtered air reduces the production of mucus in the lungs. The mucus can block those small airways and make it harder to get oxygen. Before spending time outdoors, check your local weather station for air quality reports. If it is a day of “evil spirits,” try to avoid spending too much time outside.
Drink warm liquid
According to the American Lung Association, staying hydrated is important for lung health. By drinking 64 ounces of water a day (eight cups of an ounce), you keep any mucus in your thin lungs, making it easier to get rid of when you cough. Drinking warm beverages, such as tea, broth, or even just hot water, can cause weight loss, making it easier to clear your airways.
Drink green tea
Studies have shown that green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent some types of lung diseases. In the 2018 Reliable Source study, participants who drank green tea two or more times a day had a lower chance of developing COPD.
Try some steam
Steam treatment involves inhaling water vapor to reduce mucus and reduce inflammation in the airways. A 2018 study showed that in a small group of COPD patients, the use of smoke masks significantly improved their breathing. It is important to note that although this group of patients experienced immediate relief of symptoms, they did not notice any change in their entire lung life after stopping the smoke.
Eat foods that fight inflammation
A smoker’s lungs may swell, making it difficult for him to breathe. While there is no scientific evidence that eating anti-inflammatory foods will prevent inflammation of the lungs, a well-researched source has shown that it can reduce inflammation in the body.
In other words, eating anti-inflammatory foods is not harmful. Anti-inflammatory foods include:
What happens to your body after you quit smoking?
After just 12 hours without a cigarette, the body cleanses itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes. The carbon monoxide level returns to normal, increasing the body's oxygen levels. Just 1 day after quitting smoking, the risk of heart attack begins to decrease.
How long does it take to feel normal after quitting smoking?
Many people find withdrawal symptoms disappear completely after two to four weeks, although for some people they may last longer. Symptoms tend to come and go over that time. Remember, it will pass, and you will feel better if you hang on and quit for good.