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Q: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   10 Comments )
Subject: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
Category: Health > Men's Health
Asked by: bradyj-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 24 May 2005 17:52 PDT
Expires: 23 Jun 2005 17:52 PDT
Question ID: 525239
What effective methods are there to rebuild my lungs? I am 24 years
old, and have been smoking since I was 18 -- I've quit for 4 months
now, and what to improve my overall lung capacity.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
Answered By: umiat-ga on 24 May 2005 20:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, bradyj-ga!

Congratulations! I have been in your shoes! And I believe I was just
about your age when I smoked my last cigarette. I have now been a
regular exerciser for the past 25 years and I can't imagine that I
once had the desire to willingly inhale smoke into my lungs!!


It is amazing how the body begins to repair itself on it's own, once
those dastardly cigarettes are thrown out for good.

The following overview is from "Why People Smoke," by Joe Abhold,
Ph.D. Volume 8, Number 1, Spring, 2003

"How Quickly Do the Benefits of Quitting Start?" 

* "Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure and
pulse rate drop to normal and the body temperature of your hands and
feet increases to normal."
* "A mere 8 hours after your last smoke, the carbon monoxide level
decreases and the oxygen level in your blood increases to normal."

* "Just 24 hours after your last cigarette, you substantially lessen
your chances of having a heart attack."

* "Two days after your last cigarette, you will notice that your
ability to taste and smell is enhanced."
* "Three days later, your breathing should be noticeably better
because your lung capacity will be greater."

* "Your circulation will improve and your lung functioning will
increase up to 30% within two weeks to three months after quitting."
* "Between one month and nine months, the cilia in your lungs will
regenerate, allowing your body to clean your lungs and reduce

* "One year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is
half that of a smoker."
* "Five years after quitting, your risk of stroke is reduced to that
of a nonsmoker."

* "Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half
that of a continuing smokers. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat,
esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases."

* "Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease
is that of a nonsmokers.

(U.S. Surgeon General's Reports (1988, 1990) 


According to

"Exercise is a great substitute for smoking. You may find that as you
exercise more, you cough more, clearing out your lungs and airways.
This is good. Most likely you'll breath easier and build up your
endurance as you get further and further from your last cigarette."


From "The Self-Repairing Body - Your body has a bumper-to-bumper
warranty on many important organs. Here's how to cash in before it
expires," by Matt Bean. Men's Health,2826,s1-3-68-0-1721,00.html

"The lungs come equipped with a self-cleaning cycle, but overloading
them with smoke or smog will gunk up the works. The cilia, or hairlike
structures in your lungs, flagellate (that's move) upward, coaxing the
bad stuff out of the alveoli (little air sacs) and into the trachea,
where the gunk grows into a frightening reminder of why you should
have been better to your lungs to begin with. "It's like a mucus
escalator," says Norman Edelman, M.D., a scientific advisor to the
American Lung Association. "That's a major form of defense. Within a
few days to a week (after quitting smoking], you start feeling better,
and you start coughing up all that bad mucus you have down there."

What you can do: 

"Exercise will help loosen the large chunks after you first come
clean. But you should be exercising already. Retinoic acid, or vitamin
A, could actually help your lungs rebuild. Rats and mice with
emphysema (they smoked tiny little cigarettes) given the compound were
able to restore alveoli, which swap carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen to
pre-emphysema levels, according to a recent study published in the
European Respiration Journal. You'll get several times the recommended
daily allowance (900 micrograms) in only one serving of carrots, sweet
potatoes, or mango."


From "The Influence of Exercise on Smoking Cessation."

"Smokers often find it difficult to quit smoking and make other
lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet at the same time. This is
why it is important to begin a regular exercise program several months
before the expected date of smoking cessation. Not only does exercise
aid in weight management, but it is a healthy alternative activity
that helps overcome cigarette withdrawal."

"In addition, make sure to include aerobic exercises such as running,
jogging, swimming or biking to your exercise regimen to ensure a
strenuous cardiovascular workout. Remember, it is important to get
your heart and lungs back into good condition after any period of
smoking. With this in mind, it is best to start slow and build up to
greater intensities. Start off by exercising 25-30 minutes three to
four times a week and progress gradually. It is also essential to
establish both short-term and long-term goals to push yourself and
chart your progress. You can also design an individualized program
with a personal trainer for weight training. This is a great way to
tone your muscles and develop the strength you need to resist your
cravings. In addition to a personal trainer, having an exercise
partner is a great way to stay motivated and stick with a program. Try
to find a partner who is encouraging and supportive and will hold you
accountable of your improvement and success! Lastly don't forget that
exercise increases you energy level and makes you feel better
physically and mentally whereas cigarettes sap your strength, corrupt
your body, and lead to an early death through lung or heart disease."


About Building Lung Endurance after quitting:

Read the following Question and Answer from "Ask the Tri Doc: smoking
and exercise," by Dr. Jeff Sankoff:

"Many triathletes are ex-smokers/couch lizards who are trying to get
back in shape. Do you know how long it takes before the effects of
smoking are erased from one's body? Or, how long before VO2 max can be



The importance of regular aerobic exercise is stressed in the following article:

"Your Relationship With Your Lungs," by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa,
California. The Doctor's Medical Library.

Also read:

"Repair to Lungs, Body and Cells After Quitting Smoking." The Quit
Smoking Stop.

"Quitting smoking: Better to stop at a younger age?" OhioHealth.


From "Want to Stop Smoking?" Monika Grill.
"One of the major challenges is the removal of toxins and phlegm from
the lungs. This process can take up to a year, unless supported
appropriately. Smoking tends to leave the lungs not only toxic and
congested, but also dry and possibly inflamed. The famous smokers skin
is a symptom of lung heat and dryness."

"The focus for healing the lungs is to moisturize them, so that the
phlegm is softened and loosened up. Then, we need to expel the phlegm
from the chest. For this we use herbal combinations. In addition,
Fatty Acids like Flaxseed Oil and Salmon Oil will moisturize and
nourish the tissue, and modify the discomfort of occasional coughing."

"Drinking plenty of water, improving digestion with enzymes, Cutting
back on milk products, fried foods, and fatty foods, will reduce
additional phlegm production."

"Most people do not drink enough water. Unlike sodas, coffee, alcohol
and fruit juices, which burden the system and aggravate symptoms,
water heals. It flushes out toxins, softens deposits and phlegm, and
lubricates the tissue."

"I suggest taking a bottle of water along wherever you go, and sipping
from it throughout the day."


The following excerpt is from "The never-too-late nutrition plan: you
can rebuild yourself - no matter how badly you've trashed your body,"
by Myatt Murphy. Men's Fitness, Jan. 2002

* "Once you stop, the effects of smoking on your digestive system,
lungs and heart will eventually diminish over time. However, you
should start eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a
day. Studies have shown that men who regularly eat both can cut their
risk of lung cancer by 50 percent."

* "Giving up smoking can also mean gaining a few extra pounds as
compensation. To avoid this, "break up your daily caloric intake into
six or seven smaller meals, compared to three or four larger ones, to
help curb binges while keeping your glucose levels even throughout the
day," says Kleiner. Small, frequent meals also require less acid for
digestion, which will help ease any problems until your digestive
system returns to normal functioning."

* "Make sure to include foods that are high in complex carbohydrates
(such as rice, breads and pasta), which can tie up excess stomach
acids and give your stomach a well-deserved break.

* "Starting an exercise program is the single most beneficial thing an
ex-smoker can do. Why? Regular exercise can produce biochemical
changes similar to those caused by nicotine, including enhanced mental
sharpness and a greater sense of calm. Exercise generates
catecholamines, chemicals that help increase mental alertness, as well
as endorphins, which help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.
Burning more calories also keeps your metabolism in high gear, helping
to stave off any excess weight that can be brought on by quitting


I truly hope the above information is helpful. Again - Congratulations!



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Clarification of Answer by umiat-ga on 24 May 2005 20:45 PDT

If some of the older, "cached" links do not work for you, and you
desire to read the full article, you might want to paste the link into
your browser, or search under the article title name.
bradyj-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great answer -- lots of extensive areas that I did not find in my
search and good to know -- I appreciate the quality and extensive
response. I have lots to read -- and hopefully a longer life to enjoy
it. Thanks umiat-ga!

Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: baz2121-ga on 06 Jun 2005 10:34 PDT
Just a comment in addition to the brilliant answer offered above. Yes
the benefits of quitting smoking are great and your body will start to
re-coup after you quit. But i think it is important to know that
damage to the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs is permanant. Your lungs
do not "repair themselves". Once the damage is done, it is done, and
quitting only prevents further damage. In terms of lung capacity,
blood pressure, overall health and well being it will all get better!
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: giuliani08-ga on 29 Jun 2005 20:26 PDT
I am sorry baz2121-ga, but the information you provided was false, and
your lungs do "repair themselves" after being a smoker for a few
years. I would like to see the source from which you acquired your
information but yes your lungs do fully repair themselves and no
damage is done for a lifetime. Quitting is the ultimate decision in
cleansing and regenerating your lungs, although, of course abstinence
from tobacco or marijuana smoke is the choice that keeps carcinogens
and other bacterias from even getting a chance to do their dirty work.
As long as you exercise plenty and eat good foods, your heart and
lungs will become strong enough to live a fruitful life. Since your
heart and lungs are apart of the same system they totally work
together to keep you going everyday. So take care of them and avoid
smoking entirely, smoking to relieve nerves and or to "get away" as
some marijuana users put it, is entirely a bad idea. Drugs and tobacco
cloud the brain and cigarattes have even been known to cause strokes
in heavy users, or possible aneurysms in the brain. Although yes once
you quit, after a few years your lungs will regenerate cells, a step
that will one day create the healthy lungs you definately didnt have
while smoking.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: baz2121-ga on 27 Sep 2005 01:56 PDT
Sorry for reeplying so late and probably unnecessarily, but I am a
physician with an MD and a specialist study in haematological disease
and medical diagnostics. Alveolar sacs which are damaged by tar and
tobacco DO NOT rebuild themselves. Quitting will never return your
lungs to the health level they were before you started.

From your comments I can see you have absolutely no training in any
medical field or very little. The heart and lunfs are NOT part of the
same system but 2 different systems which at times interact with each
other at the most. Quitting smoking will eventually bring you back to
a healthy state, but will never reverse irreversable damage caused by
years of abuse. And you mention bacteria, when is bacteria even
related to this topic anyway?

This particular comment, "your lungs do fully repair themselves and no
damage is done for a lifetime," is very misleading and I would like to
see your references as to its validity. Some tissues will always
repair and grow back, but pulmonary scarring and pleural/alveolar
damage is for life and thats a basic medical fact!

Baz :)
Subject: baz2121-ga is wrong
From: bazisaliar-ga on 24 Oct 2005 20:43 PDT
You claim you have a MD, you can't even spell, won't even take the
time out to read what you have written. Your negative views are very
disturbing to me. You discourage people from quiting with your
negative comments. I ake it you have never smoked before and you need
a reason to keep it this way. You can build your lungs to being
healthier then ever when you quit smoking. As well from smoking you
actually become tougher from suffering. I have quit smoking for some
time now and came to read this. I had to respond.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: krnclrksn-ga on 23 Nov 2005 23:44 PST
I find it very amusing - sadly amusing - that some people think
constant abuse from smoking can be reversed.  I am 41 and smoked since
I was 17.  I quit 4 yrs ago after my father died a horrible death at
67 yrs old, predominantly due to smoking.  I KNOW I will never be in
the shape I could have been had I never smoked, but I want to live as
long as I possibly can for the sake of my children and grandchildren -
my self-esteem - my ego!!  Only smokers (and I was one for over 20
yrs) will try to rationalize their habit saying I'll quit one day and
I'll be fine.  The sad fact is - they won't be as well as they can be
unless they start ASAP!  A co-worker of mine quit at 55 yrs old.  She
has chronic lung infections, gained 50 lbs, had 2 heart attachs - all
after quiting and trying to repair the damage.  The MD who responded
is all too correct.  It can NEVER be reversed.  But you can improve
your chances......that's the bottom line.
After 4 plus years of not smoking I am in pretty good shape as far as
I know.  I run several times a week, watch my weight (only gained 10
extra lbs), swim laps, run stairs, etc.  I have more stamina than some
of my friends who never smoked!  However, I'll never be a marathon
The woman who wrote about the MD's comments was off her rocker!  She
has probably NOT stopped smoking and is still making excuses for it. 
Everyone is differnt and some will improve more so than others.  But
if I could extend my life just one extra year by quitting smoking I'd
try to do it.  I don't want my children to watch me die the horrible
death that I witnessed in my father.  I want them to remember me as a
strong old bugger who won't die and leave them their inheritance!
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: sptdexs-ga on 23 Dec 2005 11:30 PST
I started smoking when i was 14, and i smoked no more than a half-pack
a day at the most. i am now almost 18 and have quit. i would like to
know if the damage i did is reverseable or is it perminant.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: baz2121-ga on 24 Dec 2005 06:10 PST
bazisaliar-ga - you're bagging my spelling? Or can't you "ake" it? Yes
I do have an MD and no I don't have to proof-read and  self-obssess
over every word i write, coz i hope that my medical opinion gets
through to the person asking a question, not my spelling. and unlike
you i can actually type fast, which can sometimes produce an error.

read the journals dickhead - smoking damage to AIR SACS IN THE LUNGS is 
I R R E V E R S I B L E and thats a fact. yes you can re-coup, yes
your lungs and fitness will improve, but NO lung alveoli do not
magically re-build themselves.

and i discourage all my patients to quit, but i tell them realistic
reasons why they should, not lies.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: geofftodds-ga on 06 Jan 2006 13:09 PST
I'm a 34 year old male. Started smoking at 24. Spoke to my doctor, I
was told the whole body can repair any damage due to smoking. I
thought the liver could'nt repair itself ( People who drink ) I was
told it repairs also. Our body is amazing. Why not take care of it.
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: rocket273-ga on 30 Mar 2006 14:07 PST
Hey baz2121-ga,

Did you happen to overlook this quote while your god complex was
swelling in the seas of your ego?

Qoute from above:
"Exercise will help loosen the large chunks after you first come
clean. But you should be exercising already. Retinoic acid, or vitamin
A, could actually help your lungs rebuild. Rats and mice with
emphysema (they smoked tiny little cigarettes) given the compound were
able to restore alveoli, which swap carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen to
pre-emphysema levels, according to a recent study published in the
European Respiration Journal.  <----be sure to look at this journal doc!

Typical, just like some know it all professors.  Listen my friend,
positive attitudes move mountains, I know your an MD but your outlook
on life needs to be reassessed!  Why did you become a doctor in the
first place?  I hope to help people.  Before you go around acting like
you know all the answers - maybe, just maybe, you should leave a
slight oppertunity - that someone has done research supporting such a
matter.  You can't possibly know for sure - there are a lot of great
researchers out there doing incredible things.  If you want to be a
pessimist fine - but don't go around pissing on everbody's cheerios!

The correct response should be, "I am almost 98% sure that blah blah
blah blah!"  You didn't create a scientific law - so who is the
dickhead now doc?
Subject: Re: Rebuilding Lungs after smoking
From: lament-ga on 24 May 2006 17:50 PDT
Okay, you smokers are trying to support an idea that the body can heal
any damage done to it through smoking tobacco. Obviously, you support
this idea because like other smokers, you think the most important
thing is an incentive to quit.

The doctor is not taking away your incentive to quit by saying that
your body can't heal ALL damage done by smoking, he is stating a fact.
Other than being truthful with you obviously stubborn tarheads his
words are most likely keep kids from taking up the disgusting habit
you are all trying to push...

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