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Support important when quitting smoking: Sask. medical health officer

The third week of January is known as National Non-Smoking Week, and some medical professionals say support is important while trying to quit smoking. The yearly event has been going since 1977 to help people quit smoking and educate about the dangers of tobacco. Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, a medical health officer in North Battleford, says quitting smoking is stressful and may be helped by joining a group.

“That’s why it’s always good to have that good link with a healthcare worker who will provide you with counselling. It’s also good to maybe join groups that have the same goal because you need that support, and it’s important that you continue trying,” says Nsungu. He adds the support is important in quitting smoking, as it may take a number of tries due to nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

“Somebody with nicotine withdrawal symptoms may feel more irritable than usual. They may feel angry or anxious, they can have trouble thinking and may also feel hungrier than usual. Because of that, they may eat more and start gaining weight,” says Nsungu, adding that healthcare providers can be very supportive for those trying to quit.

“Those health professionals can guide patients when it comes to the need for counselling. They may also prescribe medications when it comes to that. Before even going to prescription medications, there are a number of nicotine replacement products available over the counter, though some may need a prescription.”

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For many years it’s been documented that tobacco use has negative health effects. Nsungu says that the effects of tobacco aren’t limited to just the lungs. The can cause various health problems in other organ systems too.

“In actual fact, there is no organ in the human body that is not affected by tobacco smoking. There is an increase in cardiovascular diseases, an increase in stroke. Going to the respiratory system, and all the problems we know with COPD and cancer of the lungs. Tobacco can cause cancer in any other organ, from the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, the bowels, the cervix.”

Nsungu says that even though it’s easier to quit at the start, there are always benefits to quitting smoking. Anyone looking for support while they quit smoking should talk to their healthcare provider.

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