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

• Cravings

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.

• Insomnia

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.

• Coughing

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.

Prepare some healthy snacks to eat to help stop sugar cravings
Prepare some healthy snacks to eat to help stop sugar cravings

Quick Tips to Help Deal with Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Write a quit smoking plan outlining your personal benefits of stopping smoking, goals and reasons to stop smoking cigarettes. Refer to it often.

Side Effects of Quitting Smoking Poll

Have you suffered from any side effects of quitting smoking

  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Coughing
  • Depression, anxiety, irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Several of the above
  • Other - leave a comment :)
See results without voting

Comments 53 comments

sord87 6 years ago

There are some affect me when I quit smoking a few months ago but It won't for long ,cough a bit,moody,feeling anxiety ,that all are normal but gain weight,increase appetite this one really can't stop ,and exercise is ver y much needed to control weight!A good explanation!

LadySeren profile image

LadySeren 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi sord87. Congrats on successfullky quitting!

Weight gain is a common side effect of quitting and one I struggle with too. I just love my food I think lol

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment :)

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

I am not a smoker but I know that the weight gain is number one change if you quit smoking. Thank you for the information.

healthwriterbob profile image

healthwriterbob 4 years ago from United States

Hi Lady Seren,

Good information about quitting smoking, especially the idea of changing your daily routine to eliminate activities previously associated with smoking. Voted up and useful. Take care.


lovelyred 4 years ago

The cravings where not so bad after the 6th day. I then started getting irritable. And I crave sweets soooo bad. I am going to gain so much weight.

JC 4 years ago

Hi Lady Seren, I have just quit smoking and on the 4th day now :), it was just a sudden stop of it all without the help of anything ie. gums and it was not even a gradual reduction - just a gift to my wife on our aniversary of 17yrs engagement:)and a balance of half-rim with me... thnx for the above, I know what to expect now...

Amber18 4 years ago

Good info. I was looking for reason why I can't stop coughing. I have given up ciggies for 1 month now and wonder if the nicotine replacement mini tabs can make the cough worse. Still not sure.

Robyn 4 years ago

I quit 8 weeks ago. I can't get enough sugar and have gained 8 lbs. but my hair smells great the cough is gone and I'm starting to exercise. I smoked for 40 years and I'm feeling good

Vikas Tripathi 4 years ago

I quit 1 month ago , having a bad cough,dizzing and body pain, still have some impression of these

Jay 4 years ago

im trying to stop smoking but im worry cuz i tried to stop two weeks ago i start to fell like im high (i don't do any drugs or weed). im very scare the because some my friend syid its may depression but if i feel its something related with smoking.

flora 4 years ago

it has been 3 months since i'd stop smoking and i'm still coughing and when i cough i feel like i'm coughing up a lung is that normal

Jay 4 years ago

I quit smoking a month ago. The coughing subsided, but I am suffering from insomnia and a very horrible mood!! I feel like I am depressed for no apparent reasong and I feel very angry or aggressive most of the time! But overall I'm glad I quit smoking I feel much more refreshed and clean inside out too, but I wish these feelings would go away.

nancy 4 years ago

been 7 days since i quit cold turkey. occasional cravings for cigs, make sure i eat more because so my blood sugar don't drop. my symptoms are swollen hands and feet and sore throat and mouth. i read somwhere why this happens but it wasn't happening at time so didn't take notice now trying to find again

Annabel 4 years ago

I smoking 40 a day for 20 years and I gave up 17 days ago cold turkey. I feel lethargic and still crave. When will I start feeling good?

Kris 4 years ago

2 months quit after 25 yrs of smoking, side effects less sleep an weight gain, but I don't understand after such a long time smoking no coughing or mood change, anyone any ideas.

DJ 4 years ago

I quit 4 weeks ago cold turkey and I have bought a pack to carry around with me to see how much control I have. So far, I have given them to others who ask and not smoked one. I have experienced anxiety and sleeplessness but what I do like the most is that I can smell again and when I get near anyone who's smokes, it can realize how bad I smelled to others.

whibbs 4 years ago

Stopped smoking 3 months ago.....starting to feel










Phew - this really does not leave you alone - just wanna booze to sleep / not much quality of life at the moment

4Months 4 years ago

I have been quit 4 months after using Champix so I had no symptoms for the first few months of quitting. Now I have a constant feeling of needing to clear my throat. It feels like mucous is constantly running down the back of my throat. It kept me up ALL night last night. I hope this doesn't lasnt long

Karen 4 years ago

I am on day 46 of stopping smoking. I smoked from age 12 to 51 and I am very surprised at how awful I feel after stopping. The first ten days I felt numbness from my elbow to my hands, knees to feet, and the back of my tougue. This went away, but I also lost all motivation, felt tired, lathargic, and sometimes very aggressive. Now am suffering from depression...It has been brutal. I hope things will start to stabilize soon...I still have no intentions to start again. I like that I can smell, taste, I don't smell like a cigarette, and I don't cough.. Although I have gained 15 lbs and tend to like to snack now. My skin is looking great, healthy and full of oxygen.. The negative side effects for me have been tough. If you have only been smoking a few years, quit now before it becomes painful to quit..

Mark303 4 years ago

After smoking for 24 years , quit for about 3 months now.You can't underestimate the anti depressant qualities of smoking cigarettes on a daily basis.Its not so much that your life sucks after quitting,it's that you realize it sucked all along.

hyd 4 years ago

i stop smoking 13 weeks Ago but still i have pain in my cheast right hand and arms i went to many doctors but can't find my problem and my liver is also fatty and cholestrol is 210 hdl 24 ldl 115 vdl 65 my age is 32 can any buddy tell me is this normal and how much time it will take to recovr and quit somking can increase my heart risk

serena 4 years ago

i have quit for almost two years and now i have hypothyroidism. it is very serious in my case.

Micko 4 years ago

Look smoking is a mugs game everybody knows this.

I have quit 4 months ago and its not easy I smoked 30 + for 40 + years you are just 1 cigerette away from buying your next pack at any time so if you think you feel unhealth being off them you are just looking for an excuse to go back on them if you have quit 40 days ago or three months what ever just keep doing what your doing you will get there in the end if you belive in your own self.Set yourself targets and rewards.

Natec 4 years ago

I quit

Natec 4 years ago

I quit last year after 12 years of a pack a day. I have tried to always exercise regularly. I had "air hunger" the first 2 weeks but it finally passed. I was using the gum and it was a lot better than the patches. I had 1 a while back that didn't time release and dumped it all at once that nearly sent me to the hospital. After a few weeks of quitting I began having knee joint pain. It got worse and worse until I finally went to a sports doctor. Even with rest, meds, a knee brace, and a break from exersicing iit continued to get worse. I was constantly getting sick too. I decided wth and I started smokking again after over 100+ days of being cig and nic free. The pain in my knee was gone. I lift at gym 4 times a week and run 2-3 miles at least once a week. I decided to quit again and have been doing the gum for 1 wweek now. No air hunger and cracings arent too bad with the gum. But I'll be damned if my knee isn't slowly starting to have pain in the joint. I had to wear my brace again last night when I went to the gym. Has anyone heard of this before? If so email me at if u want to quit I would definattely recomment the walmart brand of nicorette in uncoated mint flavor at 4mg. The coated tastes too much like regular chewing gum aand the flavor is better but its gone within a minute.

buddy tew 4 years ago

I quit eight days ago and I think I got all the side effects. I am 61 years old and I have been smoking for 52 of them years. I was the type person that always done what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it but after 51 years of smoking from a pack to 3 packs per day it has taking a toll on me. I plan to retire in 7 months and I would like for my golden years to be the best they can be. Right now my hole body is in a mess but I hope in time it will go away. I know what you guys are going through and I hope you the best. Stick with it, I am........

Desiree 4 years ago

second day .........smoker for 8 yrs wish me luck!

kyle 4 years ago

Stopped now for 7 weeks. not got cravings for nicotine. all i want to do is drink sweet and sugary drinks all day. about 6 litres a day. can eat loads as well. pins and needles in hands. love callipo lollies as well

Thecheeze 4 years ago

My Dad has quit smoking for just over a year now and has in frequent cough that produces no phlegm. He is however wondering if it is associated with smoking or just a cough. When will it go?

J Watson 4 years ago

Stopped smoking three months ago and never been so ill, i've picked up every bug going, I feel tearful, angry, depressed, insecure and not my normal happy go lucky self. I know it will be worth it, but how long does this last!!

me2 4 years ago

I smoked since age 12-13 (quit once for 4 years at age 20) then yes, even with all the benefits of not smoking, I started back up because of boredom. Now 30 years without desire to quit because I knew I just went back anyway... I needed strength, real strength and logic. I began to research best methods and healthy ways to tackle the job.. I of course went cold turkey, but changed coffee to green tea for now ( that was bigger than smokes I think) I also began a vitamin regiment and researched which ones help smoking cessation, like Niacin, and keeping healthy foods close by and get a lot of sleep. The best tool I found has been a glucose meter. They are fairly inexpensive now at Walmart and test strips are only $9 for 50. I am not diabetic or even close, but testing my sugar keeps me conscious of not letting lack of nicotine create other problems.Monitoring and regulating sugar is a key component to stable health. I watch my carbs (which according to my research seems to create cravings). I learned cravings last 3 minutes, so just get through 3 minutes. I look at a clock, watch, or anything just to be conscious of the three minutes theory. I do small exercises or just movement when cravings do approach the mindset. I am on day 3 and doing well. I am giving myself priority treatment as a physician would. I have not tried to shove it under the rug as if it didn't exist and let time take care of it. I keep a journal of daily food intake, vitamins, sugar levels, exercise. Its not diet, its lifestyle change. Smoking cessation is just part of the change as a whole. Tracking the progress reminds me this is a medical process. I can look back or see patterns in the journey. I am worth the time. I thank God He gives me grace to walk through it with strength and confidence. He is The Healer and lives within me. Not that I ever felt condemned, because He created me in His image, but I also know the benefits of another one of His children not smoking gives Him joy and glory. This forum is a great way to collectively strengthen each other. I read all the comments and send out mojo to all...

alex 4 years ago

It's easy to quit,all it takes is will power,i did it no patch,why pay all that

money out to buy a pack of filth to tear your system down,I will NEVER

put one of those things to my mouth ever again,that's one bad habit out of my life.

tiffany delite profile image

tiffany delite 3 years ago from united states

thanks for the great hub! new follower and i linked to it from one of my own hubs! blessings!

Zeshan Ahmad 3 years ago

Thanks for this post. I have also decided to quit smoking. I have made 4 attempts to quit smoking. I think I experience acidity in the stomch the most

Beth 3 years ago

Have smoked 22 years this is my third day, anxiety is my biggest issue Giving all over to GOD where it should go...into the sea of forgetfullness, will pray for all for addictions are a horrible thing

Adam 3 years ago

I'm really glad I came across this post. I quit smoking about a month ago and had most of the side effects mentioned here. Sleeplessness and anxiety being the worse.The strange thing is I never even dreamed they were linked to cigarettes, so now even though I feel terrible and stiff from head to toe I'm releived it has to do with quitting it's war against my own body cause I aint ever going back!

Stellar Phoenix 3 years ago

This post is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader involved. Between your wit and your pictures, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix Review

Jesse 3 years ago

I stopped smoking 2 weeks ago. I've had 2 anxiety attacks. Somed for 10 years. Lost a lot of sleep, but playing video games helps keep my mind off it. Find a new hobby to transfer the addiction to. Play guitar, exerssize .. Whatever. You could be putting your money in your family health and gifts instead of taking it to kill yourself. Meditation also helps.

Jason 3 years ago

I'm on 9 months and 19 days smokefree and I'm never going back too smoking ever again

From Jason chaplin

Carl 3 years ago

Thanks for the post. I stopped smoking 2 weeks ago too. Experiencing these side effects:










And of course with Depression, anxiety and irritability. ( I really felt sorry to my friends & family for being such a douchebag recently after my sudden quit smoking)

Because I having these effects, that's why I start searching through web to look for WHY)

And also feel happy and motivates after seeing everyone comment. Thanks guy and hope everyone success)

From Malaysia

Carl 3 years ago

Oh, forgot as well. Does anyone experiencing diarrhea as well when quitting smoking? Also beside every morning having a lot of sputum clearing out from the throat, I also always sneeze and clear out a lot of small-pieces clear mucous... And I am just 3 years smoker... Hope better days is coming...

Anon 3 years ago


-hands and feet tingles

-chest, ear and head pressure

-back pains, hurts even more when I swallow

-throbbing pain in both breats

-mild coughing

-bloated stomach and right foot

Joe 3 years ago

Hi all

it's been 2 months and 1 week since I last had a cigarette. However the first 3 weeks were hell.

Week 1-3

- Severe drowsiness at times

- Shortness of breath

- Burning sensation in upper back left side at times

- Burning sensation in left arm

- Anxiety

- Light depression

laurala 3 years ago

I have 17 days free of smoking. I was smoking more than 20 years.

Now I have feeling like I need to cough something out but nothing is going out. Every time I try to cough, I feel stickiness of cigarettes. Is that normal?

pd 2 years ago

I decided I wanted to stop. I used patches for 2 days then didn't bother with them as I felt I didn't need them. I did not really have any cravings for nicotine or cigarettes I think because I REALLY DO WANT TO STOP!

Ive stopped before but always had cravings but that was because I didn't want to stop.

Im enjoying the extra oxygen right now, its better than the smoking was :)

I know i will get a bit cranky or irritable as my body adjusts and I have all this free time now to use up.

Treat each day as it comes and enjoy the rebirth man.

BJP 2 years ago

After 36 years, I quit smoking. It's been close to 4 months since I smoked a cigarette. At first, I didn't think that it was as difficult to quit as people often said that it was. However, as time passed, I've become somewhat depressed and irritable. My moods change quickly, and I often want to be by myself. I realize that these are the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. I plan to stay smoke free, and I congratulate every person who decides to kick the habit. It's not easy to quit, but it's not impossible either. Just do it!

Billy 2 years ago

i went to e cigs after 25 years of 2 plus packs per day. At 8 weeks no real cigs and have cut back on the e cigs a bit. Did get sick for 2-3 weeks not sure if that was from quitting smokes or not. I think the e cigs are better than the real ones but probably still have some health risks. But compared to real ones they seem much less. I have noticed dry skin possibly because they can dehydrate u more and my skin has been pumping out a lot of old zits. So the toxins are leaving my skin. I can say the real cigs started to make me dumb. I think the co2 build up was causing low blood oxygen and affecting my brain.

I also quit drinking almost 8 months ago stopped smoking weed to. Both were daily 20+ year habits which had to go. It's been a ride let me tell u. But starting to feel better. Stopping drinking is crazy, it makes u so dumb and foggy for months. Really scary. I wish it on no one. Best wishes to all of u trying to better yourselves. It's very hard but hopefully u can hang in there. U really have to want to quit and that is the hard part. I love smoking real cigs drinking good red wine and smoking epic medical weed but I just turned 40 and I'm not getting any younger and they are not getting me any ware. So I've decided to clean up my act or certainly trying my best to.

God bless all


Randy 21 months ago

Finally quit after numerous attempts, itching all over from better blood flow they say, driving me nuts, can't wait for it to stop

Dman 3 months ago

I've been quit for 11 days now. Had surgery and doc said gotta quit cold turkey, doing well and not missing it.

I do get some craving for a few seconds and they go away but hoping this will pass as the some of the major stuff like big craves, still getting irritable but will power on.

Steph 3 months ago

I've quit smoking because of pregnancy. I was only on 15 fags per day for 7 years. Went cold turkey and started smoking again 2 months after having my baby. I lost a stone and a half of my weight when I smoked after birth and now I'm quitting smoking again. 5 days and no cigarette but put on 4 pounds in weight. I really don't want to quit and I hate this weight gain! So not happy but doing this for my child. Good luck to all you quitters!

Imogene 2 months ago

Is it normal to have weird feelings in your calves of legs

II 2 months ago

Quit smoking after 30+ cigarettes a day for more than 30 years. I could handle the cravings without too much trouble by simply reminding myself constantly I quit because it was not good for me. The first three days were terrible. My head had a constant throbbing and tightness and I was completely dysfunctional. Couldn't concentrate at all and was kind of drowsy all the time. Just sat on the sofa, half zonked out, not really dozing, yet not awake for three days! The third day was the worst. I nearly went back to smoking. In fact, I even took a cigarette and nearly lit it up. But I just told myself NO! I can't go back to this and tore it up and threw it. From the fourth day onwards it startted getting better, and by the eighth day, I was almost normal. By the end of the first month, it was an occasional craving, and by the third month, could sit with my smoking friends any length of time without feeling the urge, and the smoke actually disturbed me!

For those who are trying to quit, keep trying. You will get there. And it is worth it in more than one way.

I quit on my 16th attempt!!

Kristen 3 weeks ago

After 17 years of smoking, I am on my 3rd day nicotine free. I actually feel amazing! No harsh side effects, a craving from time to time but bearable! Wish I would of done this years ago! Good luck everyone!

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