Smoking leads to serious health hazards and puts us at high risk of developing cancers, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary issues, and many other lifelong disorders. Quitting smoking at any age can improve overall health and add years to life.
However, we may find it difficult to quit smoking as it contains nicotine and other addictive substances. Here, we’ll discuss the effects of smoking in old age and ways to break this addiction.
Effects of smoking on the elderly
There’s comparatively a higher incidence of tobacco-related diseases in old age due to lifelong accumulation and persistent use of tobacco products. Smoking can lead to serious health disorders that may include but are not limited to,
- Cardiovascular diseases
As it aids in forming atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, smoking makes us prone to various cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarctions, stroke, claudication, et al.
Smoking can lead to oral, laryngeal, esophageal, and stomach cancers, hepatocellular carcinoma, renal and urinary bladder malignancies, and cervical carcinomas.
- Pulmonary diseases
Smoking directly damages the lung parenchyma and airways resulting in many respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, etc.
- Diseases of eye
Smoking increases the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and even permanent vision loss in the elderly.
- Erectile Dysfunction
Smoking is also associated with a common problem of the elderly, i.e., erectile dysfunction. According to a recent study, quitting smoking can significantly improve the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
Moreover, smoking can also lead to social isolation, reduced self-esteem, and feelings of guilt or shame as our grandchildren, partners, or friends may avoid sitting beside us (due to the smell of the smoke).
Why is it so addictive?
Tobacco contains an addictive substance known as “Nicotine.” When we try to quit smoking, we usually experience strong cravings because this substance produces withdrawal symptoms. The nicotine withdrawal symptoms include headaches, increased fatigue or tiredness, sleeping difficulties, increased hunger, etc.
However, these symptoms alleviate after some time if we remain nicotine-free. You can use this screening test for tobacco addiction by Mental Health America (MHA) and endorsed by Unified Organization.
Ways to quit smoking
Smoking cessation can reduce morbidity and mortality in the elderly, even if we have smoked for more than 30 years. Different interventions can help us quit smoking, such as the following,
- First of all, we should make up our minds to stop smoking. We can plan for smoking cessation in our minds and then take action. For this purpose, we can think about the health hazards of smoking and the benefits of quitting it. It’s the basic technique of behavior modification.
- We should take counseling from our primary care provider about smoking cessation. We can also use online or in-person smoking counseling platforms to get counseling.
- Staying away from triggers and surrounding ourselves with social support can help us quit smoking.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help manage nicotine dependence and withdrawal symptoms. In this therapy, a physician may prescribe a transdermal patch, nicotine inhalers, nasal sprays, nicotine gums, or lozenges.
- For severe and resistant cases, a physician may prescribe medications such as Bupropion, Varenicline, etc., to help us quit smoking.
Using these measures, we can save ourselves from the diseases caused by smoking, adding some more years to our old age.
Smoking can put us at high risk of developing serious health complications in old age, such as carcinomas, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory issues, et al. It may sometimes seem hard to quit smoking due to addictive substances like nicotine in tobacco. However, if we prepare our minds to quit smoking, take counseling sessions, and follow our physician’s advice, we can take rid of this addiction. We can also take an online free screening test for tobacco to know about our addiction status to smoking.