5 Most Common Side Effects of Quitting Smoking and How to Cope
Unfortunately, when you quit smoking, experiencing withdrawal symptoms is common. The side effects of quitting smoking can be diverse. Not everyone experiences the side-effects of withdrawal to the same degree. This is because our bodies deal with the lack of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke in varying ways.
Side Effects of Quitting Smoking
- Cigarette cravings continue after quitting smoking.
- Quitting can cause insomnia.
- After you stop smoking you will still cough.
- Quitting can cause depression, anxiety, and irritability.
- If you stop smoking, you might gain weight or have an increased appetite.
Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Nicotine is a multifaceted drug that millions of Americans struggle with each year. Remember, you are not alone in your quest to quit and regain your health. That said, quitting will not make you feel better instantaneously. In the paragraphs below, you'll find details about the five most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, as well as information about several methods that you can use to cope during this uncomfortable time.
This article aims to prepare you for the potential side effects you may experience after you quit smoking. It also provides you with useful information regarding how to cope with these side effects. You can find details about each of these withdrawal symptoms below.
1. Cigarette Cravings Continue After Quitting Smoking
After you quit smoking, cravings for nicotine are most common. Typically, a craving can last around five minutes and can be very overwhelming. Using a nicotine replacement therapy aid, such as patches or gum, can help reduce how powerful a smoking craving is.
You will still need a contingency plan to get through smoking cravings. There are no quick fixes for smoking cravings. Focus on the reasons you have decided to quit smoking and the benefits you will gain when you succeed. Try diverting your attention by going for a short walk or practicing breathing exercises.
2. Quitting Can Cause Insomnia
Your body reacts to the lack of nicotine (a stimulant) after quitting smoking by desiring more stimulants, such as caffeine. This is often why, after you quit smoking, you become irritable and restless while your body adjusts.
To minimize this side effect, you should reduce your intake of coffee, tea, cola and stimulant caffeine drinks. Try decaffeinated products, or replacing tea and coffee with fruit juice or herbal teas.
3. After You Stop Smoking You Will Still Cough.
Often after you quit smoking you may develop a cough. This is caused by the cilia (the small hairs) that line your lungs and windpipe re-growing and working to clear out the tar and mucus that has built up over the time you were a smoker. Your body is healing itself. If your cough is lasting more than a couple of weeks, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. The cough may no longer be a side effect of quitting smoking.
4. Quitting Can Cause Depression, Anxiety, and Irritability.
One of the most dreaded side effects of quitting smoking, particularly by those around you, are the bad moods and tempers that are often associated with quitting. Try to remain stress-free, eat healthily and plan some light exercise into your day as that will help you relax.
5. If You Stop Smoking, You Might Gain Weight or Have an Increased Appetite.
Many people, particularly women, dread putting on weight after quitting smoking. There are a few reasons why people experience weight gain.
You may experience sugar cravings. This is because nicotine is a stimulant and gives you an adrenaline rush which, in turn, causes your body to “dump” sugar. After quitting smoking your body has a lower blood sugar level. It is no longer stimulated to release sugar. Eating small healthy snacks throughout the day helps reduce the sugar cravings. Eating may replace your smoking habit, so make sure you have healthy snacks available and do not replace your cigarette habit with candy or chocolate!
After you quit smoking, your taste buds suddenly rediscover the true taste of food, so you eat more! If you are experiencing increased appetite, try drinking a glass of water before your meals so you feel fuller more quickly.
By knowing what to expect after you quit smoking, you can prepare in advance. If you prepare for smoking withdrawal symptoms, then you are more likely to reach your goal of becoming smoke-free.
U.S. smoking deaths amount to more than the entire population of South Dakota each and every year.
Quick Tips to Help Deal With Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
- Make a list of 5-minute distractions to use when you need a cigarette. Examples would be activities like phoning a friend, playing solitaire, go for a brisk short walk, eat a piece of fruit, and play with a pet.
- Changing your routine helps you to stop smoking cigarettes. The urge to smoke is often associated with certain activities or triggers. If your first smoke of the day is with coffee over breakfast, drink tea or have breakfast out. If driving triggers your need to smoke then change to walking or find alternative transport or car shares.
- Replace cigarettes with healthy snacks so you can break the hand to mouth cycle. Try celery or carrot sticks, chopped fruit, sunflower seeds or nuts as alternatives.
- On a similar theme, try shelling and eating nuts when you have the urge to smoke. This has the benefit of using hands and mouth to replace the physical smoking habit.
- Learn some relaxation and deep breathing techniques that you can use if you feel stressed. Stress is often a trigger for having a cigarette as well as the stress of quitting.
- Create a smoke-free zone that you can relax in. If others are smoking around you then you are likely to start again. Have somewhere you can escape to when needed.
- Write a quit smoking plan outlining your goals and reasons to stop smoking cigarettes. Refer to it often.
5 Reasons to Quit Smoking
How This Makes Your Life Better
1. To be healthier
Many smokers have a hard time exercising, as well as other fun activities. There are so many fun activities you'll be able to partake in if you stop smoking.
2. To live longer
We dream of the perfect retirement , but it you suffer from a stroke or lung cancer at a young age, then those plans will never happen. The longer you live, the more meaningful experiences you will have.
3. To save money
Cigarettes are expensive and, especially if you have a family, that money could be used for something more important.
4. You'll smell better
Many of your dates will not like the smell of cigarettes. Quitting smoking make make you look better in other peoples' eyes.
5. You'll be helping your family
In the long run, it's better that you live to see your kids graduate college, or grow old with your partner. Your family will appreciate your desire to improve your habits.
What Is Nicotine and What Does It Do to You?
Nicotine is a chemical compound that shows up as a colorless or yellowish toxic oily liquid that is the chief active constituent of tobacco. Nicotine acts as a stimulant in small doses, but in larger amounts, it blocks the action of autonomic nerve and skeletal muscle cells. Nicotine is also used in insecticides. While nicotine is a naturally occurring compound, its main function in nature is to repel insects. You'd think this would be a sign not to consume it.
The Effects of Nicotine Use
One reason it's so hard to quit is that Nicotine is both a sedative and a stimulant. When a body is exposed to nicotine, the individual experiences a "kick." This is caused by nicotine stimulating the adrenal glands. This stimulation results in the release of adrenaline.
The body responses with an immediate release of glucose, as well as an increase in heart rate, breathing activity, and blood pressure. Nicotine also causes the pancreas to produce less insulin. This can result in a slight increase in blood sugar or glucose.
Indirectly, nicotine causes the release of dopamine throughout the pleasure and motivation areas of the brain. The user experiences pleasurable sensations. As users become more tolerant to the drug, they require higher doses to savor the effects.
What Is Dopamine and How Does It Affect Smokers
Dopamine is a brain chemical that affects the movements, and sensations of pleasure and pain. If your dopamine levels rise, the feeling of contentment is higher. This is the main reason why people struggle to quit cocaine and heroin. While nicotine is far less dangerous in the short-term, it still works on the same brain chemicals. Depending on the dose of nicotine taken by the individual, and the amount of nervous system arousal experienced by that individual, nicotine can also act as a sedative.
Nicotine consumption is linked to raised alertness, relaxation, and euphoria. Several studies have shown that nicotine appears to improve memory and concentration. This is due to an increase in acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine also increases the sensation of wakefulness and arousal. Nicotine consumption results in experiencing increased levels of beta-endorphin, which reduces anxiety. Its anxiety-reducing effects are part of what makes it such a hard drug to quit.
Who Is More Susceptible to Nicotine?
The mentally ill
Imagine that you have bipolar disorder. In one moment the stimulant effects of nicotine help, while in the next moment the relaxing effects of nicotine are desirable. Those with chemical imbalances are more likely to desire nicotine.
Besides personal anxiety and depression, in general, impoverished youth are more likely to be around nicotine addiction to begin with.
Abused people often develop undiagnosed OCD and PTSD. The relaxing effects of nicotine are extra tempting to these folks.
People in chronic pain
Chronic pain can cause us not to sleep, or to feel sluggish. Nicotine's stimulant properties can be amplified for those who might need a pick-me-up.
People with stressful jobs
A surprising amount of nurses and teachers smoke. The stress of these jobs makes the relaxing effects of nicotine even more rewarding.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nicotine Withdrawal
Now that we've explored the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, let's examine some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the long-term effects of quitting the use of this drug.
How Long Does It take to Feel the Effects of Nicotine Withdrawal?
The earliest symptoms of withdrawal are cravings for a cigarette, followed by anxiety, anger, irritation, and a decrease in mental function. These problems cumulate, causing attention problems and difficulty in completing tasks. Most of these symptoms peak at approximately 3-5 days after quitting. Eventually, they begin to taper off.
How Long Does It Take for Your Body to Start to Repair Itself After You Quit Smoking?
It takes your body about eight hours after you quit for carbon monoxide to begin leaving your body. As your body attempts to maintain homeostasis, oxygen levels will begin to stabilize. Smoking causes mucus and other debris to build up in your lungs. This can take much longer to get rid of. While it can take as little as a day after your last cigarette for your lungs to clear out, your lungs are still badly damaged.
Do Your Lungs Heal After You Quit Smoking?
When you quit smoking, the inflammation in the airways goes down. Nevertheless, if you've been smoking a long time and have developed chronic bronchitis or emphysema, the lungs never totally heal.
Is It Normal to Cough Up Phlegm After Quitting Smoking?
After you quit smoking, the cilia start recovering. As the cilia recover, they will better clear mucus and phlegm from your lungs. This process can cause coughing that can take one to nine months to lessen. certain people may also notice that they cough more than usual when they initially quit smoking.
Is Vaping Better for You Than Smoking Cigarettes?
Many people who are trying to quit have considered turning to e-cigarettes. Often times, since nicotine is still present and the smoker's habitual motions are unchanged, smokers just replace one nicotine delivery method for another. However, there is a strong scientific consensus that vaping is far better for health than smoking. Vaping does not put tar into your lungs, but the damaging effects of nicotine use are still present. It's better to avoid smoking altogether.
Can Nicotine Patches Help Me Pace Out My Withdrawal Symptoms?
Yes, nicotine patches can help you pace out your withdrawal symptoms. Nevertheless, some people do become addicted to the patches, and the transdermal absorption of nicotine is still dangerous for your health in the long run. Starting with a medium strength nicotine patch and weaning oneself off the drug has been an effective method that many have used. If going cold turkey is too difficult, then this option can be helpful. Reducing your nicotine intact little by little can be an effective way to lessen the pain of withdrawal.
Can I Still Get Lung Cancer After I Quit?
Unfortunately, you can still get lung cancer after you quit smoking. Quitting will greatly reduce the risk of getting lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses. The risk of these illnesses decreases after you stop smoking and continues to decrease as more tobacco-free time passes. While the risk of lung cancer decreases over time, it can never return to that of someone who has never smoked.
The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is about $5.51. Minimum wage in the U.S. is about $7.25. Smoking one pack a day will cost some people nearly one hour's worth of work. It's easy to see how this habit can add up.
Cost of a Cigarette Habit in the U.S.
# of Packs
Average Cost for a U.S. Smoker Per day
Average Cost for a U.S. Smoker Per Month
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.