During Ramadan, smokers abstain from smoking during the fasting period. This cessation, coupled with a spiritual focus on self-discipline, is an added incentive to quit smoking altogether, says an expert. Image Credit: Stock picture.

Abu Dhabi: During Ramadan, smokers stop smoking from dawn to sunset, allowing their bodies to gradually reduce dependence on nicotine. This cessation, coupled with a spiritual focus on self-discipline, is an added incentive to quit smoking.

In an interview with Gulf News, Dr Zaid Zoumat, Head of the Pulmonary Diseases Department at the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, spoke about the opportunity that Ramadan offers smokers to change their habit.

Quick results

Addressing the health benefits of kicking the habit, Dr Zoumar said: “The positive impact starts just after 20 minutes of quitting, when one’s blood pressure and pulse decreases. In eight hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in the blood returns to normal, and oxygen levels increase simultaneously, leading to improved respiratory function and increased lung capacity.”

Dr Zaid Zoumat

He added: “Meanwhile, a full day of not smoking reduces the risk of a heart attack and within 72 hours, bronchial tubes relax, making it easier to breath. Over the following weeks and months, circulation improves, exercise becomes more manageable, and respiratory symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath gradually decrease.”

The health expert went on say that the benefits of quitting smoking continue to add up over the years. After 10 years, there is a substantially reduced risk of lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases, compared to those who continue to smoke, he said.

Getting through withdrawal

Dr Zoumat added that while quitting smoking during Ramadan can bring withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, and other symptoms, these discomforts are signs of the body’s healing process. “Though unpleasant, these symptoms are temporary, usually lasting 10 to 14 days. During this period, it’s important to focus on the reasons for quitting and leveraging the spiritual significance of Ramadan.”

Read more

He said: “The holy month provides practical support through communal activities, and the obligation to fast during daylight hours encourage and distract cravings. Additionally, the emphasis on self-discipline and personal growth during Ramadan can serve as a powerful motivator to overcome nicotine addiction.”

Diet and exercise

Dr Zoumat explained that incorporating regular exercise into the daily routine during this journey is highly beneficial. Physical activity improves cardiovascular health, boosts mood, and helps reduce stress levels, making the withdrawal process more manageable. Maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins supports overall well-being and aid in overall recovery.

“By prioritising self-care and adopting healthy habits, both physical and mental performance can be optimised after quitting smoking. These positive lifestyle changes will not only support smoking cessation efforts but also contribute to a heightened sense of overall well-being,” he added.

There are indirect benefits as well

“For starters, it sets a healthy example for children and loved ones, promoting a smoke-free environment, and reducing exposure to passive smoking. This raises a culture of wellness within the family and encourages healthier habits among family members.

“Additionally, the journey of quitting smoking during this holy month can strengthen familial bonds as individuals support and encourage each other in their pursuit of better health. This shared experience can deepen connections and create a sense of unity.”

He also said a decrease in smoking can lead to long-term public health improvements, including reduced healthcare costs and a lower burden of smoking-related diseases for communities.

Special conditions

Dr Zoumat pointed out that for patients with underlying health issues, it is advisable to seek medical guidance.

“For example, patients with existing medical conditions, such as cardiovascular or respiratory issues, may require medication to their regimen and close monitoring during the quitting process. With proper medical supervision and support, the journey to a smoke-free life can be navigated safely and effectively,” he said.