ZocdocAnswersDo smokers' lungs ever heal?

Question

Do smokers' lungs ever heal?

Smoked for 10 years and just now quit. Does that mean that my lungs will start to heal? Do they go back to normal? Will I always be at risks for lung conditions even though I quit?

Answer

First of all, congratulations on quitting smoking! This is a very difficult thing to do, and it is also one of the most important things you can do to protect your health over the long term! When you quit smoking, your body immediately begins to experience the positive effects of this. Some of the earliest changes are with respect to your blood pressure and circulation. Indeed, within just a few days of quitting smoking your risk of a heart attack begins to go down. After a few weeks, your ability to exercise and your overall energy will improve. You will also notice that symptoms like sinus congestion or coughing are improving as well. By one year of quitting smoking, your risk of any sort of heart disease will be half of that it was while you were currently smoking. Your risk of lung cancer takes a bit longer to go down but, by 10 years after quitting smoking, your risk of lung cancer will be no higher than someone who never smoked a day in their life! Please discuss this with your primary care doctor, who can give you more information. And again, congratulations!

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