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5 Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

Posted Friday 10 January 2020 09:07 by in Smoking Cessation by Harman Bhamra

Smoking addictions are incredibly common - the nicotine found in tobacco becomes highly addictive when smoked regularly.

While millions of people smoke globally, studies show that over 70% of smokers want to quit their addiction, but struggle to succeed. Read on to discover five of the most common symptoms of a nicotine addiction that you should be aware of, including ways to stop smoking if you wish to put an end to this health-damaging addiction.

Common Symptoms of a Nicotine Addiction

There are many tell-tale signs of a nicotine addiction, but the clearest indicator will come from how often you reach for a cigarette. If the cravings are always too strong to ignore, then the addiction is more prevalent. The most common symptoms of an addiction are as follows:

Weight Gain

Many people who suffer from a nicotine addiction find themselves gaining a little bit of weight. Nicotine actually triggers the release of glucose in the muscles and liver which alters your insulin response. As a result, you suffer from a drop in blood sugars when away from a cigarette, resulting in the need to replace energy stores with food.

Irritability and Anger

Stress is a common sign of nicotine withdrawal in people who are addicted. This is triggered by the strong dysregulation of the endocrine and central nervous systems. This dysregulation leads to changes in your mood which can make you angry and irritable when you’ve not had a cigarette. This is an incredibly vicious cycle as smokers begin to believe that they need a nicotine rush to stay calm.

Smoking Even When Unwell

If you’re tempted to light up a cigarette even when you’re sick, there’s a strong chance you’re addicted. This is especially the case in people who still insist on maintaining their habit, even with serious conditions such as cancers or heart problems.

Cravings

Anyone who has smoked will know just how difficult it can be to fight the cravings for a cigarette. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t smoke and are desperate to have a cigarette, it’s a strong indication that you’re very addicted to the nicotine. The longer you can go without needing to light up, the milder your addiction is.

Avoiding Activities That Will Halt Smoking

Many places, such as hospitals, schools and cinemas, are no-smoking zones. If you are avoiding activities with friends or family on the grounds that you know you won’t be able to smoke there, your addiction is taking over.

What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

Nicotine addictions are detrimental to your health, but hard to escape. What happens when you stop smoking? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

When you decide to stop smoking, the cravings for cigarettes come in waves – they can be incredibly intense at first, but then will gradually pass and fade. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and it actually happens sooner than you think - just as long as you persevere.

Within 20 minutes, your body has already started the process of healing itself. Your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure and pulse return to normal. After eight hours of no nicotine in your system, you have half the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide in your bloodstream. However, you may also be experiencing intense cravings by this stage.

At 12 hours, your carbon monoxide levels in the body have returned to normal and your heart will be able to perform better as a result. Smokers who smoke a packet of cigarettes a day are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack as a non-smoker, but by 24 hours without nicotine, the chances of this have lowered.

At 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste are improving, and your body is detoxing the chemicals in your lungs and bloodstream. At this point, you will no doubt be experiencing headaches, dizziness and irritability as your body cleans itself up. This is the toughest time in the quitting stage but sticking with it is vital for success.

By the end of day three, your energy levels will rise and your ability to breathe will be clearer. Between two weeks and three months, you’ll make huge strides and will find you can exercise for longer and breathe more freely. Cravings are still common at this stage, but the intensity will have started to calm down, making it easier to control. From here until the one year mark and beyond, your health continues to improve and your risk of diseases and health concerns drop dramatically.

Check out our guide on the timeline of smoking withdrawal for more information.

Ways to Stop Smoking

If you’re wondering how to stop smoking, we’ve compiled some tips to help you get on the road to recovery. There are many strategies you can choose, from using prescribed stop smoking tablets to specialised chewing gum. Here are the top picks that most smokers find useful.

Use Champix tablets

Champix tablets are one of the most popular medications used to quit smoking. They’re simple to consume and can successfully fight addiction in as little as 12 weeks. There are many benefits which come from using Champix tablets - they help to reduce cravings and eventually win you back a higher quality life. They also help to reduce stress and irritability, as well as alleviating headaches and other addiction-related symptoms; making it easier to keep on track.

Keep yourself busy

Finding a distraction is a great way to reduce your need for nicotine, as often cigarettes are used out of habit. If you can go for a walk, play a game with family or chat to a friend when you feel a craving coming on, you’ll distract yourself enough to let it pass.

Make a list of reasons to quit smoking

When you’re struggling to stay on track, remind yourself of the benefits of quitting and the reasons why you wanted to in the first place. Write down your top five reasons why you want to stop smoking and refer to it every time you have an urge to smoke.

Conclusion

Nicotine is an addictive substance and quitting is never easy. But with the right support and a great mindset, you can overcome your addiction to smoking, as many others have in the past. Whether it’s keeping busy, using prescription medication (which can be through purchased through Express Pharmacy) to ease your cravings or setting goals, quitting smoking is achievable for anyone.

Here at Express Pharmacy, our pharmaceutical experts are passionate about getting you on the road to a healthier life. Be sure to take a look at our stop smoking products or get in touch on 0208 123 0703.

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The Top 6 Healthiest New Year's Resolutions

Posted Wednesday 08 January 2020 17:48 by in Smoking Cessation by Harman Bhamra

When the New Year rolls around, the majority of us enter into a state of reflection, picking apart how we can better ourselves over the coming months. But while resolutions are fun to make, they can be challenging to maintain, resulting in most of us failing to keep them up for the entire year.

Studies suggest that a third of us aim to try harder in at least one area of our lives in January, and while intentions are good for the first few weeks, they inevitably get forgotten about as life gets in the way and enthusiasm wanes.

However, if there’s one area of your life that you should make an effort to improve, it’s your health.

From gaining a more positive body image to reducing the risk of potential health problems, numerous benefits come with prioritising your health. The following six resolutions are some of the healthiest ones you can make, meaning sticking to them will bring you incredible benefits.

The healthiest New Year's Resolutions

1. Lose Weight

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. It seems that many of us feel unhappy with our weight and resolve to shift the excess pounds after Christmas.

This is all fine and well, but losing weight takes effort and determination, so it can be difficult to commit to in the long-term. Weight loss is not a resolution that you can see overnight success from, and this reason alone is why so many people lose the motivation to shed some pounds.

There are various routes you can take when it comes to losing weight, from keeping a food journal to stay on top of progress, to taking prescription weight loss pills. You’ll likely find that a mixture of the best weight loss pills, exercise, and diet will be the perfect recipe for weight loss success.

2. Keep in Touch with Friends and Family

The New Year is the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family, which, in turn, is great for your health.

Research shows that people who have a strong bond with people in their lives live longer than those who don’t. The reason behind this is that a lack of social relationships and sense of loneliness can lead on to more serious problems like alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.

With so many apps and technological devices on hand, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with people or rekindle a forgotten relationship. Send off some text messages or emails to loved ones and follow them up with an in-person visit – you’ll instantly feel better, and you’ll make someone else’s day in the process too.

3. Quit Smoking

Smoking increases the chance of having a stroke by as much as 50%, and it has also been linked to countless health concerns, from cancers to coronary heart disease.

If you are looking to stop smoking in the New Year, there are plenty of methods you can use to help make the transition easier. One of the most popular prescription medications used for quitting smoking is Champix; 45% of users manage to quit smoking after just 12 weeks of taking it.

4. Lower Your Stress Levels

A bit of pressure in life can be good for us, but when your stress levels increase too often, it can be incredibly detrimental to your health.

Chronic stress is prevalent in today’s fast-paced society, but it’s been linked to numerous health concerns including heart disease, obesity, insomnia and depression. Many factors in our lives can make us stressed, from long hours at work to a lack of sleep and poor diet.

Stress is inevitable in short bouts and can even give us a boost of adrenaline in certain situations, but this doesn’t mean you should disregard the importance of relaxation and a good night’s sleep. In the New Year, try to take time out of your schedule to spend time with loved ones, catch up on sleep and do relaxing activities such as reading or yoga.

5. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

The festive period is a prime time to slip out of healthy routine and indulge in alcohol and food. Once over, many of us make the resolution to cut back on the amount of alcohol we drink.

Drinking alcohol to excess can impact the brain’s neurotransmitters, heightening the risk of several mental health problems, including depression, memory loss and seizures. Alcohol is also detrimental to our physical health, from weight gain and liver problems to heart disease and hypertension. Are the health consequences really worth it?

Make it one of your health-related New Year goals to cut back on alcohol to improve your health - and bank balance.

6. Get More Sleep

We’re always being told that a good night’s rest is healthy for us, but do you know just how beneficial to our health it really is?

From improving your mood to lowering stress levels, sleep is incredibly important for our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain and high blood pressure, as well as making it more difficult to strengthen memories which is a process known as memory consolidation.

When you regularly get a poor night’s sleep, your mind is foggy, you struggle to cope with daily stresses effectively, and your immune system suffers. So, next year, make it one of your goals to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest.

Become a healthier version of yourself in the New Year

These top six New Year’s resolutions are great for many reasons, but the main point to take away is the fact that they’re all achievable. With help from a few small tweaks to your daily routine, you will be on the road to a better, healthier version of yourself.

For more information regarding effective stop smoking and weight loss treatments, get in touch with our pharmacists today on 0208 123 0703.

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Tags: General Health Stop Smoking Weight Loss

TIMELINE: What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Posted Wednesday 06 November 2019 11:01 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

Despite a significant drop in the number of smokers since the implementation of the 2007 ban, there are still more than 9 million active smokers in Britain. This equates to around 15% of all UK adults.[1]

A large number of these people are individuals who have smoked for years and are finding it hard to kick the habit, rather than new smokers. As such, smoking among 18 to 24-year-olds has fallen faster than in older age groups.[2]

Finding the motivation to quit can be difficult for existing smokers, which is why it’s important to know exactly how and when your health will improve once you make the decision to quit. We’re going to take a look at the impact stopping smoking can have over time, from 20 minutes to 20 years.

What impact does smoking have on your body?

Smoking has a huge impact on your health. In fact, it is the most common preventable cause of death and disease in the UK, where nearly 80,000 people die every year due to smoking-related causes.[3]

On average, smoking reduces your life expectancy by 10 years, and after the age of 40 every year you continue to smoke cuts your life expectancy by a further three months. Smoking impacts the health of many parts of your body, including your lungs, heart, brain, arteries and senses.

Some of the issues associated with smoking include:

- Cardiovascular disease

- Stroke

- Respiratory disease

- Blood clots

- Fertility issues

- Cancer, including cancer of the bladder, blood, cervix, colon, kidney, larynx, liver, lung, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, tongue, throat and trachea, among others.[4]

Why do we smoke?

There’s a reason why people find it so hard to quit smoking. Inhaling cigarette smoke regularly makes alterations to your brain. This means that, once you quit, your brain has to relearn a way of doing things without relying on regular nicotine hits.

Nicotine alters the balance of two chemicals in the brain: dopamine and noradrenaline. When the levels of these chemicals change, so too do your mood and concentration levels, which smokers often find to be a positive experience.[5]

A nicotine rush produces these pleasurable feelings instantly, and the more you smoke the more your brain becomes used to these nicotine ‘hits’. This creates a vicious cycle, as you then have to smoke more to get the same effect.

What happens when you quit?

The effects of quitting smoking start to appear in as little as 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette. By the time you have stopped smoking for a few weeks or months, you’ll notice significant benefits to your health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, successfully quitting for years can dramatically reduce your risk of serious health concerns.[6]

After 20 minutes: Your pulse rate returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop and circulation starts to improve.

After 8 hours: Nicotine levels and carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop by more than half. Oxygen levels also return to normal.[7]

After 48 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated entirely from the body, and your lungs start to clear out mucus. Other debris is also cleared from the lungs. Nicotine has left the body. Your sense of smell and taste will improve.

After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier and bronchial tubes begin to relax. Energy levels increase. You may also experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms including moodiness, irritability, headaches and cravings. This is the period where most people feel the greatest urge to smoke again.[8]

After 1-3 months: Circulation continues to improve over the first few months after quitting. In as little as a month, your lung function starts to improve and you may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. You might also experience a renewed ability for cardiovascular activities like running and jumping.

After 9 months: By this point, the lungs have healed significantly. Cilia – hair-like structures within the lungs – have recovered and will help push mucus out of the lungs to fight infections.

After 1 year: Your risk of coronary heart disease has dropped to about half of that of a person who is still smoking. This will continue to drop past the one-year point.

After 5 years: The body has healed enough for arteries and blood vessels to widen again. Smoking causes the arteries and blood vessels to narrow, increasing your likelihood of blood clots.[9] Because of this, five years of not smoking can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Over the next 10 years, this risk will drop even lower.

After 10 years: Your risk of developing lung cancer has dropped to that of a non-smoker.[10] Your chances of developing mouth, throat or pancreatic cancer have also been significantly reduced.

After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack is now at the same level as that of a person who has never smoked. Similarly, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is also the same as that of a non-smoker.

After 20 years: After successfully quitting for two decades, your risk of death from smoking-related causes like lung disease and cancer will have dropped to the same rate as a person who has never smoked in their life.

How to quit successfully

Quitting means something different to everyone. For some people, smoking alternatives like vaping offer the best chance of success. In fact, more than three and a half million people in the UK currently use vapes.[11]

For others, nicotine patches help to reduce cravings and improve their chance of quitting, while some people look to support groups and programmes to help keep their willpower in check.

Even simple lifestyle changes can make a significant difference when it comes to stopping smoking. Factors like regular exercise, keeping your hands busy, drink and diet changes, making non-smoking friends and maintaining realistic expectations can all help to improve your chances of quitting.[12]

For many people, safe and effective smoking cessation medication is the most effective way to quit smoking for good. Research shows that drug treatment like Champix can improve the success of quitting several fold.[13]

Effective smoking cessation medication like Champix is available here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our online Live Chat service.

[1] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco statistics. 2018

[2] Public Health England. Turning the tide on tobacco: Smoking in England hits a new low. 2018

[3] Bobak, A. PhD. Effects of smoking. Bupa UK. 2018

[4] Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Smoking and Tobacco Use: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. 2017

[5] NHS UK. Why is smoking addictive? 2018

[6] NHS UK. 10 health benefits of stopping smoking. 2018

[7] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[8] Cancer Research UK. Smokers underestimate nicotine cravings. 2008

[9] Heart.org. Understand Your Risk for Excessive Blood Clotting. 2019

[10] NHS UK. Quitting is the best thing you’ll ever do. 2017

[11] Stubley, P. Vaping ‘linked to 200 health problems in the UK including pneumonia’. The Independent. 2019

[12] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018

[13] Heydari, G. FallahTafti, S. Quit smoking with Champix: Parallel, randomised clinical trial of efficacy for the first time in Iran. European Respiratory Journal. 2012


Is Vaping a Safe Alternative to Smoking?

Posted Thursday 24 October 2019 12:27 by in Smoking Cessation by Johanna Galyen

October, in the UK, is also known as Stoptober. A nationwide campaign to help stamp out smoking once and for all. Although it has been 12 years since the “ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces took effect throughout the UK,” says the Centre for Public Impact, smoking is still prevalent. One of the many ways to stop smoking that is suggested is switching to vaping. But is this safe?

Vaping: A Basic Understanding

Cigarettes rely upon the burning cigarette’s smoke to carry nicotine into the lungs. Unfortunately, this smoke also carries carbon monoxide, tar, and many other harmful chemicals. Vaping uses a liquid vapor to carry the nicotine. This vapor is often made out of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, not out of water, as some might think.

In the UK, the amount of nicotine is more highly controlled than in other countries. The milligram levels are restricted to 20 milligrams, which have been reduced from 24. The companies cannot market their products in commercials, and only those ages 18 and over can purchase the products.

The Independent reported an “estimated 3.6 million people in the UK use vapes, according to a survey earlier this year.”

Is Vaping Safe?

This is a tough answer. Vaping is safer than smoking — just as not handling poisonous snakes is safer than playing with them. Some would say that it is 95% safer than smoking. Vaping does not carry the dangerous chemicals that are associated with cancer. But is it 100% safe as compared to never vaping or smoking? No. Stopping smoking and vaping all together is always better than choosing between the two.

Here are some statistics that were reported as of October 1, 2019, in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • As of October 8, 2019, 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory.
  • Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.
  • All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

Experts are cautioning doctors in the UK that e-cigarette deaths and illnesses are not just an American problem. There are “200 adverse reactions listed in the UK Yellow Card reports include major health problems such as cardiac arrest, epilepsy and spontaneous abortion, they also include coughs, sneezing and headaches” says The Independent. While there are stronger regulations in the UK, it is only a matter of time until people there start improperly using e-cigarettes and mixing in other ingredients like THC. This may be a world-wide issue unless strongly confronted.

Making Stoptober a Landmark in Your Life

Instead of switching from cigarettes to vaping pen, try stopping smoking all together. For the first time in years or even decades, be free of the need to smoke something. Champix is a prescription-based medication that alleviates cravings without reliance on Nicotine.

Studies have found that those taking Champix (varenicline) were the most successful in quitting smoking than those trying other tobacco dependence methods such as the patch or gum.

Knowing the difference between confusing scientific studies and real pharmacological benefits is important for your health. In some situations, you may need additional support, treatment, and medication. Discover medications for smoking cessation like Champix here at Express Pharmacy. We can help you gain access to effective treatment swiftly and discreetly.

Contact us today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.


From Myths to Medicine: How Our Understanding of Smoking Has Changed Throughout History

Posted Monday 21 October 2019 08:43 by in Smoking Cessation by Tim Deakin

smoking myths

In the UK, 16.5% of men and 13% of women still smoke.[1] This may sound like a lot – and it is – but this is still a significant drop on the number of smokers documented 10 years ago. In fact, both cigarette smoking prevalence and the average number of cigarettes smoked by smokers per day have been decreasing since the 1970s.[2]

This is largely due to the increase in the scientific information available regarding tobacco. But our understanding of its risks hasn’t always been so strong.

Smoking has been the subject of much misinformation

People have smoked tobacco and other substances since ancient times. All over the Americas and across Indigenous peoples, tobacco was used in rituals and as a pastime as early as 5000 BC.[3]

By the 1700s, smoking had become a widespread habit throughout the western world. In the early- to mid-20th century, the popularity of smoking grew even more as misinformation about cigarettes became widespread, thanks in large to the boom in advertising. In the mid- and late-20th century however, particularly after World War II, people began to understand that there were serious health repercussions involved in smoking tobacco.[4]

Some of the wildest myths about smoking that people believed in the past include that it could relieve headaches and that it could ward off diseases. Some past health experts even believed tobacco could be used as an anaesthetic!

Today, there is no hiding from the damage smoking can cause

Today, most of us know that smoking is bad for us. Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death in the world.[5] Around three in 20, or 15%, of cancer cases in the UK are caused by tobacco.[6] This makes smoking the largest cause of cancer in the UK.

Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, nasopharynx, bladder, pharynx, kidney, pancreas, stomach, liver, cervix, bowel, ovarian cancers and leukaemia.[7] It can also be a causal factor in early onset menopause, impotence, poor olfactory function and lower life expectancy.[8]

These kind of statistics and findings have clarified our understanding of the dangers of smoking. As such, our attitudes towards the habit are changing. The NHS reports that there has been a general decline in positive attitudes towards smoking, particularly among young people.[9] Since the 2007 smoking ban, attitudes and behaviours have changed even more dramatically.

Quitting for good requires perseverance and support

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of succeeding in your attempt to quit. These include:

  • Being realistic but positive in your expectations
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Making non-smoking friends
  • Finding ways to keep your hands busy
  • Identifying what triggers your cravings
  • Making changes to your diet and drink habits[10]

Some people benefit from quitting as part of a group, or seeking support via apps or family members. Others use safe and effective medication to improve their chances of success.

Are you trying to give up smoking for good this Stoptober? You’ll find safe and effective smoking cessation medication like Champix right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our experts today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat system.

[1] Office of National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. 2018

[2] Office of National Statistics. Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. 2013

[3] Gately, I. Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. 2007

[4] Cancer Council. A brief history of smoking. 2010

[5] World Lung Foundation. The Tobacco Atlas. 2018

[6] Brown, KF., et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer. 2016

[7] Cancer Research UK. Tobacco Statistics. 2018

[8] Action on Smoking and Health. Facts at a glance — key smoking statistics. 2018

[9] NHS Digital. Statistics on Smoking, England. 2019

[10] NHS UK. 10 self-help tips to stop smoking. 2018