Eimear Nee, the Allcare Pharmacy trainer, shares some tips for quitting smoking.
Currently, in Ireland, there are more quitters than smokers, which is a wonderful statistic! It is never too late to start your journey to improved health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Stopping smoking is one of the most positive actions you can take towards improving your health. Even though we all know the harm that smoking causes to our health, it is still incredibly difficult to ‘kick the habit’. At Allcare pharmacy, we are here to offer you support should you wish to make this positive new change to your life.
We stock a range of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT), including patches, gums, lozenges, sprays, and inhalers. These differ in several ways, in terms of their strength, how long they last in the body, how quickly they start to work, and the way in which they are used. NRT helps with nicotine withdrawal symptoms by replacing some of the nicotine which the body is used to receiving through smoking. NRT can help to ease nicotine cravings experienced when giving up smoking. NRT also has a role to play where there is a short-term need to quit smoking e.g. when traveling by airplane.
It is generally recommended that NRT is used for up to 12 weeks. The NRT dose is based upon the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Those who are smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily should start on the higher strength gum/lozenge/patch and reduce to the lower strength products over a period of weeks as advised by your pharmacy team. By asking you a few quick questions about your smoking habits and lifestyle, we can help you choose the product and strength best suited to your needs. Should this be an NRT lozenge or gum, you’ll be advised on the special way to suck or chew these products in order to achieve the full dose. NRT is not suitable for everyone, therefore, if you have a health condition for which you take other medicines, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, for example, it is best to speak to our Allcare pharmacist for advice.
Our pharmacy team will also support you in managing withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, cough, sore throat and headaches, and provide advice on how to manage these symptoms. Your local Allcare Pharmacy team is available to support you and motivate you on your journey to quitting smoking.
Some top tips for giving up smoking:
- Choose a ‘quit day’. It is a good idea to choose a day about two weeks in advance in order to mentally prepare for quitting. Think about how you might manage difficult situations in the future, such as socialising with fellow smokers. During this two-week time frame, decide on a plan. Speak to your Allcare pharmacy team about the best NRT product(s) to suit your needs.
- Throw out any ashtrays and cigarettes
- Tell family and friends. Informing friends and family of your intention to give up smoking helps to gain support and further motivation. Ask family and friends who still smoke to avoid smoking in your company and to remove their cigarettes and ashtrays from where you might see them
- Change your routine. For example, if you normally have a cigarette with a cup of coffee, change to drinking tea
- Increase exercise
- Seek help from your pharmacy team or your GP if you experience significant withdrawal symptoms upon stopping. It is also common to develop a chesty cough upon stopping smoking, as the lungs begin to recover and start clearing mucus from your chest. The cough can last for weeks or months but will gradually improve. A cough bottle e.g. Exputex may help to improve excess mucus on the chest during this time. Speak to your Allcare pharmacy team for further advice on managing a cough that develops on quitting smoking or if you have any other cough or breathing difficulties
- There are several other helpful resources available, included: The National Smokers' Quitline (Freephone 1800 201 203) and Quit.ie
- There are also medicines available on prescription to help with smoking cessation. Speak to your Allcare pharmacist for more information
Some of the many benefits you can look forward to when you stop smoking include:
- You will look and feel better and enjoy fresher breath and nicer smelling clothes
- You will be fitter, have more energy and enjoy a better quality of life
- You will reduce exposure of your family and friends to second-hand smoke
- You will have more money in your pocket!
Plus, the health benefits of stopping smoking include:
- After 8 hours, oxygen level rise in the blood, and nicotine and carbon monoxide levels reduce
- After 48 hours your sense of smell and taste improve
- After 3 days you will notice increased energy and your breathing will improve
- Within 2-3 months your lung capacity may increase by up to 30%. The Allcare Asthma Care Service is available as extra support for asthmatic patients wishing to quit smoking
- Within 1 year your risk of heart attack falls by half. Free Blood Pressure checks at Allcare can show the positive impact that stopping smoking has on your blood pressure
- Within 5 years the risk of smoking-related cancers will be greatly reduced
Pop into your local Allcare Pharmacy or call to book your smoking cessation consultation, the pharmacist will measure your blood pressure, peak flow reading, BMI, and recommend options to help you quit smoking. If you are on medication to help you relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms from quitting, you can get a repeat prescription through our Online Doctor service.