The Five Most Common Side Effects of Quitting Smoking
Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
Unfortunately when you quit smoking experiencing some smoking withdrawal symptoms is common. The side effects of quitting smoking can be diverse.
After quitting smoking not everyone is affected by smoking withdrawal symptoms and side effects to the same degree. This is because our bodies deal differently to the lack of nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke which is no longer inhaled daily.
This hub aims to prepare you for the side effects you may experience after you quit smoking.
Typical Side Effects of Quitting Smoking
After you quit smoking cravings for nicotine are most common. Typically a craving can last around 5 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.
Your body reacts to the lack of nicotine (a stimulant) after quitting smoking by absorbing more of other 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 of quitting smoking 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.
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 the cough is lasting more than a couple of weeks consult your doctor or healthcare provider as the cough may no longer be a side effect of quitting smoking.
• 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.
• Weight Gain and 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 bloody sugar level as it is no longer stimulated to release sugar. Eating small healthy snacks throughout the day helps reduce the sugar cravings
Eating becomes something to do instead of smoking, so make sure you have healthy snacks available and do not replace cigarettes by candy or chocolate!
Your taste buds suddenly discover the true taste of food and you eat more!
If you are experiencing increased appetite try drinking a glass of water before your meals so you feel fuller more quickly.
So there you have the five most common side effects of quitting smoking and smoking withdrawal symptoms. By knowing what to expect after you quit smoking you can prepare in advance. Preparing for smoking withdrawal symptoms you are more likely to succeed with your goal to become smoke free.
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 personal benefits of stopping smoking, goals and reasons to stop smoking cigarettes. Refer to it often.