How Can I Safeguard My Health after Quitting?
You quit smoking. You can finally say #imaquitter! Now what? The good news is – and you’re probably starting to notice – your health begins to improve immediately. Throughout the first 15 years you stop smoking, there are so many reasons for #celebratingquitters. Monitoring your personal progress and keeping track of your gains with health scans is the best way to celebrate.
In the first two weeks to three months after quitting, you increase your lung function and decrease your risk of heart attack. In the first nine months, coughing and shortness of breath may decrease. After one year of saying #imaquitter, your risk of heart attack drops drastically. After only two to five years, your risk of stroke will be the same as a nonsmokers. When you celebrate five years smoke-free, you can also celebrate reducing your risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder by half. On your ten-year anniversary, you can celebrate your risk of lung cancer dropping in half, as well. By that time, your kidneys and pancreas will be functioning better, as well. In 15 years’ time, your risk of coronary heart disease drop to the same level as a non-smoker’s.
4 Steps for Smokers to Take After Quitting
As your health improves, it’s important to pay attention to the long-term effects of smoking on your health. There are four steps you can to safeguard your health after quitting.
Keep quitting. Successful quitters are honest about the power of addiction. They know that living a tobacco-free life is about choosing to say #imaquitter each and every day. Staying mindful of your triggers will help you to remain vigilant and stay away from tobacco.
Celebrate. Don’t forget to reward yourself for accomplishing your goal of quitting! Create a bucket list that you can unpack with your newfound freedom from smoking. How much were you spending on tobacco products each week? Each month? Each year? What was your shortness of breath or other side effects preventing you from doing? Keep finding new ways to celebrate.
Get health scans regularly. After you quit smoking, it’s important to monitor your health. Getting a lung scan is the single most effective tool in safeguarding against lung disease. There are other scans to ask your doctor about too. Smoking not only impacts your respiratory system, it also impacts your heart health, your cardiovascular system, and several other organs, as well.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. The truth is, smoking has a negative impact on your health. Even though your health improves immediately once you quit smoking, there are still lingering effects to keep in mind.
The 6 warning signs for lung disease you should not ignore.
When it comes to lung disease, early detection could save your life. A proactive approach is critical for successful treatment and survival. If you have a history of smoking, you could be at greater risk for lung disease, including COPD, asthma, and lung cancer. Knowing the warning signs for lung disease is your first step in getting the treatment you need.
Chronic cough. If you’ve had a cough for a month or longer, you should not ignore it. This symptom could be sign that you are experiencing a serious respiratory problem.
Shortness of breath. Labored or difficult breathing that doesn’t subside is not normal. If you feel like you’re having trouble breathing after exercising or even without exertion, you should call your doctor.
Wheezing. Whistling or noisy breathing could indicate a blockage in your airway.
Excessive mucus production. Mucus is naturally produced in your airways to trap infections and irritants. If you are experiencing congestion that lasts a month or longer, you could be suffering from lung disease.
Coughing up blood. This symptom indicates a problem with your health and shouldn’t be ignored. Blood may be coming from your lungs or upper respiratory tract.
Chest pain. If you have chest pain that has persisted for a month or longer, it could be a warning sign for lung disease. Unexplained chest pain that worsens when you breathe in or cough should be addressed immediately.
Getting a lung scan
Lung Scan is a fast, non-invasive screening that is saving smokers’ lives. Did you know, when detected early, 90% of lung cancer cases can be treated? If you or a loved one have a history of smoking or have had exposure to secondhand smoke, ask your doctor if a lung scan is right for you.
Lung Scans identify cancer up to 6x earlier than a conventional chest x-ray. For high-risk smokers, this can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer by 20%.
What is a Lung Scan?
Lung Scan (also called a low-dose lung screening) uses a CT machine to create an extremely clear image of the lungs using a low dose of radiation. In fact, the amount of radiation you are exposed to is so small it is equivalent to living one year in Denver with its natural background radiation.
Why Get a Lung Scan?
Your Lung Scan may reveal nothing at all – and you deserve that peace of mind. The good news is, if cancer is detected, 90% of cases can be treated if found early. Lung Scan identifies cancer 6x earlier than a conventional chest x-ray and, for high-risk smokers, can reduce the chance of dying from lung cancer by 20% over chest x-rays.
Who Should Get a Lung Scan and How Often?
If you meet all of the following criteria you should ask your doctor about a Lung Scan.
- You are between the ages of 55 and 80.
- You are currently a smoker or have quit in the last 15 years.
- You have a 20-year pack history or more (ask your doctor about calculating your pack years).
What to Expect during a Lung Scan
Lung Scan is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure, covered by most insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, for patients who meet the criteria. The scan only takes about 10 minutes (you only have to hold your breath for 5-10 seconds). At Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg, a Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Radiologist will interpret your scan and any findings will be sent to your physician. MIF also offers a variety of other health screenings, including the heart scan screening.
Lung Scan is available at two convenient locations:
Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg
1201 Sam Perry Blvd., Suite 102
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Medical Imaging of North of North Stafford
125 Woodstream Blvd., Suite 109
Stafford, VA 22556
Schedule your Lung Scan today.
At Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg, we help our patients discover the difference prevention can make. We offer the most convenient care at the highest quality services for the greatest value in the region. For more information about preventative health scans or to find out which scans may be right for you, call (540) 741-XRAY (9729).