Weather chilling and shorter days mean that winter has arrived. Think about how great it could be if you didn’t feel the urge to take smoke breaks outside in the cold or snow. Instead, you could be inside, spending quality time with your loved ones. If you’re ready to kick your smoking addiction this winter, now is the time to prepare to make it happen.
Those looking to quit smoking should consider creating a Quit Plan. Your plan could include reflecting on your old smoking habits, preparing for urges to smoke, and how to avoid those urges. It's also a good idea to enlist others to join your Quit Team – friends, family and coworkers who can offer support throughout the quit journey. Be sure to have a healthcare provider on your team as well. Support from a healthcare provider that includes counseling and medication can double your chances of quitting smoking.
Luckily, this is a great time of year to accomplish two tasks at once: Some people see their doctor at the start of winter to prepare for the cold and flu season. If you’re planning an end-of-year checkup with your doctor, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about wanting to quit smoking. A healthcare provider can help you develop your Quit Plan and address any questions or concerns you may have.
This winter, arm yourself with information to help you prevent the flu or cold and quit smoking. Read on for questions and answers that may help you get the conversation started with your doctor.
1. Does smoking put me at risk for cold and flu/infection?
- Cigarette smoking is a substantial risk factor for serious bacterial and viral infections. Influenza risk is higher and more severe in smokers than nonsmokers.
- People with chronic lung disease such as COPD, which is often caused by smoking, are at high risk for developing flu-related complications. If you have COPD, speak to your doctor for tips to help keep you healthy during the winter months. If you are a smoker who does not have COPD, one of the best things you can do to prevent the disease is quit.
2. What should I do to prevent the flu?
- The Centers for Disease Control recommends routine annual influenza vaccination.
- Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face.
- Keep your distance if you are around someone else who is sick.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
3. What are flu symptoms, and what should I do if I notice them?
- Sudden onset of high fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, cough (usually dry), chills, sore throat, nasal congestion and runny nose, and fatigue are the most common symptoms.
- Most people recover from the flu within two weeks. But some may develop complications as a result of the flu, which could be life threatening.
- Complications such as pneumonia can occur if your body is weakened by the flu. If you have difficulty breathing, experience chest pain from coughing, or are coughing up yellow-green or bloody phlegm, see a doctor right away.
4. There are many questions to ask your doctor about quitting smoking. Some include:
- What are some of the benefits of quitting smoking that are specific to my health?
- Can you tell me about potential withdrawal symptoms? How long do they last?
- How can I make a Quit Plan? What support programs can help with my quit?
- Is there medication available that can help me quit?
It’s also a good idea to tell your doctor about your smoking history and any quit attempts you may have had in the past. This can help your doctor create a plan that is right for you. Print out our Doctor Discussion Guide for questions and tips on guiding the conversation about quitting smoking.
If you don’t have a doctor, there are plenty of ways to connect with one online. You can also find a clinic near you to get a flu shot or advice to combat the winter cold and flu season. Don't wait, there are substantial health benefits to quitting smoking. ’Tis the season to become smokefree!