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Cleaning your lungs after quitting smoking

Did you know? Just 12 hours after your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal.

Yes! This helps get your body to get the oxygen required for all cellular functions.

The critical aspect of a healthy lung is ‘cilia’. They are tiny hairlike organelles that sweep out debris, mucus, and other pollutants found throughout your body.

After two weeks to three months, you will witness lung improvement since the cilia present in the lungs takes 1-9 months to repair.

If you've been smoking for a long time, then you're likely to have tar in your lungs. Reach out to your nearest smoking cessation clinic in Vadodara!

If your question is: Can I clean my lungs after quitting smoking?

It would be best if you clean your lungs by removing all the toxins built up in your lungs. The good news that your lungs are good at cleaning themselves. With time as you refrain from smoking and reduce the intake of lung pollutants like second-hand smoke, vaping or poor air quality, your lungs will start to heal and regenerate itself.

The process of cleansing starts right after you smoke your last cigarette. The speed of recover depends on the damage you’ve created.

You would be shocked to know that 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels. After a month, you will experience a decrease in coughing or shortness of breath, and after one year, there will be a dramatic improvement in your breathing and tolerance levels.

Luckily, after five years of your last cigarette, your risk for developing lung cancer is cut in half, as compared to when you were smoking.

Ironically, smoking leads to two different kinds of permanent damage to your lungs:


Here, the small air sacs in the lungs known as alveoli get destroyed, decreasing the lung’s surface area. This causes trouble in exchanging required oxygen to the body.

Chronic bronchitis:

The smaller airways leading to alveoli get inflamed, preventing the oxygen from reaching the alveoli.

Repairing your lungs at the right time can prevent you from several chronic diseases like:

  • heart disease

  • diabetes

  • high blood pressure

  • cancer

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), etc

Several studies have revealed that cigarette smoke spurs the lungs to make more of the receptor protein, which the novel coronavirus uses to enter human cells. Scientists have also claimed that quitting smoking might reduce the risk of severe coronavirus infection.

The bottom line is that smoking can cause severe damage to the lungs in the long-term, that may be irreversible. Continually smoking can worsen your situation and lead to an increased likelihood of COPD and lung cancer.

According to Medical News Today, after 20 years of quitting smoking, the risk for COPD drops to the same level as if you’d never smoked. And after 30 years, the risk of lung cancer also drops to nonsmoking levels. Thus, it takes decades for the lungs to heal. The period gets longer, the more you smoke.

People who have been smoking for a very long time have tar present in their lungs. This means there are toxic particles left in the lungs. The tar damages the cilia in the lungs and airways responsible for cleaning the lungs.

In addition to this, tar also contains harmful toxins like carbon monoxide, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. This cannot be removed easily and takes time to heal.

Unfortunately, there's no procedure or medication to remove tar as the cilia will take around from 1-9 months to heal after you quit smoking. Studies indicate that for every six years of smoking, it takes one year to remove the amount of tar from your respiratory system.

Thus, early the better. Today is the best time to challenge yourself to quit smoking. If you've already made up your mind, then head down to know more about the same.

How can you clean your lungs?

Proper diet, breathing and physical exercises can increase your chances of lung repair. Make sure you head to a professional lung hospital to get tips, new smoking cessation methods and latest information to help you quit smoking.

Do your lungs get better after quitting smoking?

If you’re thinking about natural ways to clean your lungs, then yes you can do it. Remember this that there are no ways to reverse scarring or lung damage that you’ve caused. If you’ve already made up your mind to quit, then you need to concentrate on preventing further damage and improving lung health.

1. Exercise

Several experts have emphasized the importance of diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Not only this, but physical fitness is also a critical aspect of a healthy body and mind. Regular exercise releases endorphins and dopamine, which helps with nicotine withdrawal. You can also perform yoga to improve lung function after quitting smoking.

Pro tip:

Incorporate more of aerobic activity to boost your lung capacity. Aerobic exercises like running, walking, cycling, swimming, boxing, dancing and even Zumba can help you to overcome chronic lung disease.

2. Try percussion

Chest percussion is a manual technique which involves clapping on the chest or back to loosen the thick, sticky mucus from the sides of the lungs. All you need to do is lie down with your head lowered and tapping lightly on your back, working from top to bottom.

It’s combined with postural drainage wherein you change the body’s position for smooth movement of fluid out of the lungs. People with pneumonia should practice postural drainage by tapping the individual’s back with cupped hands to loosen secretions and move it out of the lungs.

3. Coughing

Doctors have claimed that smokers tend to have a lot of mucus built up in their lungs. Regular coughing can unblock all those smaller airways and opening them up to get oxygen.

By doing so, you can persist the build-up and flush out all the extra mucus.

4. Consume warm fluids

As per the American Lung Association, the key to lung health is to drink loads of water, approximately eight 8-ounce cups is a must!

This helps in thining your mucus and makes it easier to get rid of it. Get into the habit of drinking warm beverages like tea, coffee, broth or even hot water to cause thinning of mucus for easy passage from your airways.

Researches have shown that participants who consumed green tea two or more times per day were less likely to develop COPD.

5. Hog on anti-inflammatory foods

For smokers, inflammation makes it difficult to breathe.

There has been no research suggesting that consuming diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can prevent lung inflammation; at least it can reduce inflammation in the body.

It’s advisable to hog on anti-inflammatory foods like citrus fruits, berries, pineapple, radishes, leafy greens, herbs, spicy roots and foods with high chlorophyll.

Avoid dairy products, processed foods, packaged convenience foods, caffeine, sweets, fatty oils, nuts, seeds, beans, grains and fatty vegetables like avocado, mushrooms, green peas, olives, plantains, potatoes, and squashes, etc.

Quitting smoking can be a struggling phase, but it’s the best decision for you and your loved ones.

6. Invest in air purifiers

This is a great alternative to cleanse your lungs by improving your indoor air quality. Air purifiers can protect you from indoor pollutants that come from cleaning products, including allergens like dust mites, moulds and home appliances.

It can also help if you live in areas with high air pollution or seasonal wildfires. Place it in individual rooms for clean, clear air.

Along with your purifiers, change your filters and clean all the vents, including your air conditioning or heating vents. Replace them every six months or so.

7. Take steam therapy

It involves inhaling water vapour to thin out mucus and reduce inflammation in the airways. Studies have shown that the use of steam masks can significantly improve breathing in COPD and asthma patients.

8. Spend time outdoors

Inhaling fresh air can aid in expanding your lung tissues and enable proper functioning. Make sure you move out only after checking the pollution forecast as poor quality air can be harmful.

Stay away from burning trash, wood, etc. If you stay in an area with heavy pollutants, then try to shift (if possible) in an area with green pastures and natural scenery.

Also read: 10 ways to detox your Lungs!

The End...

Now that you've decided to quit smoking pat yourself in the back for the best decisions you have ever made. Pranayam Lung & Heart Institute (PLHI) - the best hospital in Baroda will help you by bringing awareness and help patients to quick smoking and tobacco. We look forward to educating you about the health risks of smoking and learn how to escape the cycle of quitting and then slipping up and smoking again.

Get acquainted with helpful tips, new smoking cessation methods, and the latest information to motivate you to quit this habit. Don't waste any more of your time and money! It's not too late to gain your lungs back and decrease your cancer risk, QUIT smoking NOW! Come to the best lung specialist in Vadodara!

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