2 months quit smoking side effects

7 Common Withdrawal Symptoms | Quit Smoking | Tips From Former Smokers

And What You Can Do About Them

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Trying to quit smoking feels different for each person, but almost everyone will have some symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. When you stop, your body and brain have to get used to not having nicotine. This can be uncomfortable, but nicotine withdrawal can’t hurt you – unless you give in and have a cigarette!

Over time, withdrawal symptoms will fade as long as you stay smokefree.

Almost everyone who smokes regularly has cravings or urges to smoke when they quit. They may be mild or can sometimes feel overwhelming. Figuring out how to deal with cravings is one of the most important things you can do to stay successful.

Ways to manage:  There are LOTS of things you can do to make urges and cravings less of a problem. Quit-smoking medicines can help a lot, and so can other quitting tips. Cravings can be triggered by things that make you think about smoking—like people you smoked with, a place you often smoked, or things you used to do while smoking like having a cup of coffee. Even a thought or a feeling can trigger a craving. But other thoughts can help you get through a craving, like remembering why you are quitting. Remember that you never have to give in to a craving, and that it will always pass.

  • Use a quit-smoking medicine.
  • Keep busy and distract yourself.
  • Be active – some physical activity is better than none!
  • Spend time with friends who don’t smoke.
  • See other ways to manage withdrawal.

It is very common to feel irritated or grouchy when you quit. Even many people who have never smoked know this is part of quitting. Knowing this is normal can be helpful.

Ways to manage:  Remind yourself that you likely feel this way because your body is getting used to being without nicotine. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself why you’re quitting.

Feeling jumpy or restless during the first days or weeks after quitting is normal. Just like your mind gets irritated without nicotine at first, the rest of your body can, too.

Ways to manage: Doing some physical activity can help shake loose your jumpiness. Get up and walk around for a bit if you feel restless. Try cutting back on coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks. When you quit smoking, caffeine lasts longer in your body.

You may notice that it is harder to concentrate in the first days after you quit—this is very common.

Ways to manage:  Try to cut yourself some slack, especially in the first days after you quit. Try to limit activities that require strong concentration if you can.

It’s common to have some trouble sleeping when you first quit smoking. This will get better, but if it is bothering you, talk with your healthcare provider to get help. If you become exhausted from poor sleep, this can make it harder to stay quit.

Ways to manage:

  • If you drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drinks regularly, don’t drink them in the late afternoon or evening. When you quit smoking, caffeine lasts longer in your body.
  • If you are using the nicotine patch, try taking it off an hour before bedtime. Sometimes the nicotine in the patch can affect your sleep.
  • Try some of the other things that can help you get a good night’s sleep:
    • Don’t watch TV or use phones, computers, or e-books in bed.
    • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.
    • Don’t eat a heavy meal or drink alcohol right before bed.
    • Add in some physical activity during the day (but not right before bed).
    • Go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends.

It’s normal for your appetite to increase some when you quit. And your body may not burn calories quite as fast. You may also eat more because of the stress of quitting or to have something to do with your hands and mouth. Food may even be more enjoyable because your senses of smell and taste are not being dulled by all that smoke!

Ways to manage: While some people may gain weight after they quit, it’s important for your health to quit sooner than later. Below are a few simple things you can do to help control weight gain after quitting. The bonus is that these things will help you build healthy behaviors for a lifetime of being smokefree!

  • Snack smart. If you eat between meals, find some healthy, low-calorie foods that still give your mouth and hands something to do, like celery, carrots, or sugar-free mints. You can also keep your hands and mouth busy with a toothpick or a straw.
  • Be active. Any physical activity is better than none. Even if you don’t want to join a gym or take up running, simply going for a walk can have real health benefits!
  • When you eat, focus on eating. Eating is often something we do in the background while we watch TV or check our phones. When we eat like this, we eat more. When you quit smoking, make a point of removing distractions when you eat. Also try eating a bit slower and focus on enjoying your food. This can help you notice when you are getting full.

If you are worried about gaining weight, a quit coach can help you with other quitting tips, or you can talk with your healthcare provider for help.

People who smoke are more likely to have anxiety or depression than people who don’t smoke. Some people feel mood changes for a short time after they quit smoking. Watch for this, especially if you’ve ever had anxiety or depression.

For some people, smoking may seem like it helps with anxiety or depression, but don’t be tricked. Smoking might make you feel better in the short-term, but that’s because the nicotine in cigarettes stops the discomfort of withdrawal, not because it is helping with anxiety or depression. There are much better ways to deal with withdrawal symptoms and mood changes than returning to smoking! The good news is that once people have been smoke-free for a few months, their anxiety and depression levels are often lower than when they were smoking.

Ways to manage:

  • Be Active. Being physically active can help lift your mood. Start small and build up over time. This can be hard to do if you’re feeling down. But your efforts will pay off.
  • Structure your day. Stay busy. Get out of the house if you can.
  • Connect with other people. Being in touch or talking with others every day can help your mood. Try to connect with people who are supportive of your efforts to quit smoking.
  • Reward yourself. Do things you enjoy. Even small things add up and help you feel better.
  • Talk with a healthcare provider. If you don’t feel better in a couple weeks, or your symptoms feel unmanageable, it’s important to contact a healthcare provider.

What if feelings of depression get worse, or don’t get better? You should get help. Talk to your healthcare provider, call the quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), or seek appropriate emergency help.

  • Sometimes people who are feeling depressed think about hurting themselves or dying. If you or someone you know is having these feelings, get help now.
    • Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online chatexternal icon is available 24/7.
    • Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency department for emergency medical treatment.
    • Don’t be alone. Don’t leave another person alone if he or she is in crisis.

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What to expect when you quit smoking

When you decide to quit smoking, it can help to find out what to expect as you work through the process. Some people have only a few mild symptoms when they quit but others find it harder.

While withdrawal can be challenging, it can help if you look at the symptoms as signs that your body is recovering from the damage smoking has caused.

Many people find withdrawal symptoms disappear completely after two to four weeks, although for some people they may last longer. Symptoms tend to come and go over that time. Remember, it will pass, and you will feel better if you hang on and quit for good.

Symptoms when you quit smoking

Common symptoms you may experience during your recovery include:

  • cravings – these may be strong at first, but they usually only last a few minutes. If you resist each one they will get less powerful in time
  • restlessness and trouble concentrating or sleeping – these will pass as your body gets used to not smoking. Relaxation and deep breathing can help.
  • irritability, anger, anxiety, depressed mood – this is all normal: don’t panic. Just accept that you will be emotional for a while and that it will pass
  • increase in appetite and weight gain – this may last several weeks. Planning ahead can help. Better Health Channel has tips on managing weight gain when you quit.

Less common symptoms you may experience – which will also pass – include:

  • cold symptoms such as coughing and sneezing
  • constipation
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • mouth ulcers.

As time passes, you will find these symptoms grow weaker, and you will think about smoking less. If you have severe or long-lasting symptoms, it might help to discuss them with a health professional or a Quitline counsellor. It might also help to use nicotine replacement therapy or prescribed stop smoking tablets. For more tips go to Craving a Cigarette Right Now?

Caffeine (for example, in coffee, chocolate and cola soft drinks) and alcohol are also affected by tobacco smoke. Cutting down on drinks or foods with caffeine when you stop smoking is recommended. It’s important to talk with your doctor about stopping smoking if you drink alcohol.

Feeling emotional when you quit

In the first days and weeks when you quit smoking, the emotional ups and downs could feel like a rollercoaster ride. Making big changes in your life can naturally lead to heightened emotions.

Some people describe giving up smoking as feeling like you’re losing a friend. As long as you understand that this is just a stage and what you’re feeling is normal, you can ride through the hard times and settle into feeling more confident without cigarettes.

Knowing how quickly you will recover with quitting can help:

  • Within six hours your heart rate will slow and your blood pressure will become more stable.
  • Within one day your bloodstream will be almost nicotine free, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood will have dropped, and oxygen will be reaching your heart and muscles more easily.
  • Within one week your sense of taste and smell may have improved.
  • Within three months you will be coughing and wheezing less, your immune function and circulation to your hands and feet will be improving, and your lungs will be getting better at removing mucus, tar and dust.
  • Within six months your stress levels are likely to have dropped, and you are less likely to be coughing up phlegm.
  • After one year your lungs will be healthier and breathing will be easier than if you’d kept smoking.
  • Within two to five years your risk of heart disease will have dropped significantly (and will continue to do so over time).
  • Within five years, a woman’s risk of cervical cancer will be the same as if she had never smoked.
  • After 10 to 15 years your risk of lung cancer will be half that of someone of a similar age who keeps smoking.
  • After 20 years your risk of heart attack and stroke will be similar to that of someone who has never smoked.

Weight gain and quitting smoking

Weight gain is not always part of quitting smoking but it is common. You may find you feel hungrier than usual after you quit – this is a common withdrawal symptom and it will settle down with time. It can help to plan ahead and have plenty of healthy snacks in the kitchen, such as nuts and fruit, and to get rid of the junk food from your house.

If you do gain weight in the early days, try not to be too hard on yourself. By quitting smoking you’re doing great things for your health.

Managing smoking withdrawal symptoms

Although withdrawal symptoms can feel challenging, there are ways you can help yourself stay motivated:

  • Keep a list of reasons you have decided to quit and keep it handy for those moments when you’re tempted to smoke.
  • Make plans and stay busy.
  • Engage friends and family to help distract you from your cravings and keep you motivated.
  • Remember the four Ds:
    • delay acting on the craving for five minutes and it will usually pass
    • do some deep breathing
    • drink water, or
    • do something else.

Routines to help you manage cravings

One of the biggest challenges many people face in the early days of quitting is the regular cravings. Some cravings are your body physically wanting nicotine, but some are also related to your daily routines.

Changing your routine can help avoid those triggers that tell your brain it’s time for a smoke.

Here are some ideas for activities to do instead of smoking at those times you usually reach for the cigarettes:

  • first thing in the morning – have a shower
  • with coffee or tea – change to a different drink, a different cup, or change where you drink it
  • at morning tea – sit in a different place or with different people, read a magazine or take a scroll through your social media
  • at the computer at home – move your desk or redecorate to change the look
  • after a meal – go for a walk
  • after work – exercise or meditate
  • before dinner – make your dinner time earlier
  • with alcohol – change to a different type of drink or hold your drink in your smoking hand
  • as you plan your next task – breathe deeply
  • as a reward – listen to music or have a piece of fruit
  • when you’re with a person who’s smoking – chew gum or bring a water bottle
  • in front of the television – move the furniture around, hold a stress ball, do some easy stretches
  • before bed – have a warm drink or read a book.

Remember, each time you resist that urge and do something else instead it’s a victory in your quest to quit: you’re helping your brain break that link between the activity and the cigarette.

The more options you have to distract yourself, the better. Here are a few more ideas you can try at any time:

  • Sip a glass of water slowly.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Call a friend.
  • Play a game on your phone.
  • Ask your partner or a friend for a shoulder massage.
  • Try some gardening.
  • Put on some hand cream.
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle or crossword.
  • Peel an orange.
  • Think about the reasons you’re quitting and envision a positive future.

Managing stress when you quit smoking

It will take time to settle into new routines and find new ways to deal with stress now that smoking is not an option.

The stress-release you feel when you have a cigarette is only temporary. It doesn’t solve your problems, it only shifts your focus and feeds the smoking stress-cycle.

Research tells us that people who smoke tend to have higher stress levels than non-smokers. Most people find that their stress levels are lower six months after quitting than they were before they quit.

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when you quit is finding a new way to take ‘me time’ – at work, when you first get home, after dinner, and other times when you just need some time out.

You might find it helpful to create a special space for yourself to relax. Or you could try revisiting an old hobby or starting a new one.

See How to deal with stress when you quit for ideas on great time-out activities.

Costs of smoking

There is no point dwelling on the amount of money you have already spent on smoking. But you could still save money if you quit, and the sooner you quit, the more money you will save.

If you smoke a pack of 20 cigarettes a day at $27, you will save around $10,000 a year. Thinking about what else you would like to do with that money can be a great motivator to stick to your quit plan.

Try this cost calculator to see how much you can save by giving up smoking.

Benefits of quitting smoking

Quitting is one of the best things you will ever do for your health. It can affect your life in ways you may not even imagine.

Benefits to your health and life from quitting smoking include:

  • Your sense of taste and smell may improve, so you may enjoy your food more.
  • Exercising to increase your fitness will become easier.
  • You will be free from the hassles of smoking, such as smelling of smoke, or always having to make sure you have enough cigarettes.
  • Your fertility levels will improve (in both men and women), and if you’re a woman, your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby will also increase.
  • You will save thousands of dollars a year that you can save or spend on other things.
  • Your family and friends will also benefit because:
  • You won’t put their health at risk with second-hand smoke any more
  • Your children will be less at risk from bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, meningitis and ear infections.

If you start smoking again

If you have a cigarette, don’t use it as an excuse to go back to smoking.

Remove yourself from the situation. Go for a walk, take a deep breath or have a drink of water, and ask yourself if you really want to be smoking again. Try not to waste your energy on self-blame. Instead, treat that cigarette as a sign to revise your quitting strategy.

If you’ve tried several times to give up smoking and you haven’t succeeded yet, don’t lose hope. It’s common for people to try to quit a number of times before they stop smoking for good.

Next time you quit, spend some time thinking about what has worked for you in the past, and what challenges caused you to go back to smoking. Then make plans for what you will do this time when those temptations come up again.

Help is available to quit

To find out all your options, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how they can help you quit, and call Quitline. Quitline is a free telephone support service. Quitline counsellors are trained to listen carefully and give you support suited to your needs. You don’t have to do this alone. And willpower is not the only tool at your disposal – you can buy nicotine patches, lozenges or gum and prescribed stop smoking tablets more cheaply with a script from your doctor.

Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you which stop smoking medication would suit you and how your usual medicines may need adjusting when you stop smoking.You can also go online at quit.org.au and create your own quit plan with easy-to-find information suited to you.

You can sign up for Quit Mail. Over 12 weeks Quit Mail will send you regular emails tracking your health and money gains, plus lots of tips to help you stay quit.

For more information see Quitting tips and Quitting methods.

Where to get help

  • Your GP (doctor)
  • Your pharmacist
  • Quitline Tel. 13 78 48, 8am – 8pm, Monday to Friday

What gives quitting smoking?

It is important for a person who has made a decision to quit smoking to get the fullest understanding of the nature and essence of his addiction. In this case, smoking cessation will be conscious and long-term.

What is tobacco?

In everyday life, tobacco is most often called the leaves of the plant of the same name subjected to drying and grinding, used for smoking. The main component of tobacco that provides its psychoactive properties is nicotine. There are different varieties of tobacco, the nicotine content in them varies between 0.3-5%.

Nicotine is a plant alkaloid found in the leaves of tobacco, potato, tomato and other nightshade plants. It is a powerful poison of neurotoxic action, actively used in the manufacture of insecticides. In small doses, it causes a state of mild arousal, which to a large extent contributes to the development of dependence on tobacco.

Nicotine addiction is one of the most persistent - yielding to cocaine and heroin, it is noticeably stronger than dependence on alcohol and marijuana, which raises considerable obstacles in the way of a person who has decided stop smoking .

The lethal dose of nicotine for humans is approximately 0.5 to 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight.

How nicotine works

Nicotine enters the lungs of a person with tobacco smoke, very quickly penetrates into the bloodstream and reaches the brain. By acting on the so-called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors present in the brain, nicotine activates them, which leads to additional production of adrenaline in the body. In addition to this, the concentration of the “pleasure hormone” dopamine in the brain increases. As a result of these processes, a state occurs that smokers describe as generally relaxed, slightly euphoric, conducive to concentration during mental work.

Psychoanalysts say that the stimulation of the mouth muscles and lips during smoking brings another portion of pleasure to a smoker, which, at the subconscious level, returns him to the very beginning of life, because the feeling of satisfaction and security arises in an infant while sucking on the mother's breast.

The consequences of smoking

When tobacco is burned, several thousand various compounds and substances are formed, of which at least three hundred are poisons that have a detrimental effect on the human body.

These are, for example, compounds such as carbon dioxide, acetone, hydrogen sulfide, hydrocyanic acid and many others. The so-called "tobacco tar", which is an integral part of tobacco smoke, includes many carcinogenic compounds, in particular heavy metal salts and carboxylic acids.

Smoking contributes to the development of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Among smokers, mortality from myocardial infarction, lung cancer and other malignant tumors is very high.

All this is an effective incentive to quit smoking .

What does smoking cessation do

The withdrawal syndrome resulting from smoking cessation is characterized by such relatively mild manifestations as irritability, insomnia, possibly bulimia, which can lead to weight gain.

With the right organization of the treatment process, all these unpleasant effects are overcome, and smoking cessation will pay off handsomely in the future:

2 hours after smoking cessation – withdrawal of nicotine from the body, the first manifestations of withdrawal syndrome.

12 hours - removal of carbon monoxide from the body, easier breathing.

48 hours - the sense of smell and taste become sharper.

2-3 weeks - the withdrawal syndrome completely ceases to remind of itself, the state of health noticeably improves.

3 months - the functions of the circulatory system return to normal.

4-6 months - the respiratory system recovers, shortness of breath and "smoker's cough" disappear.

3-5 years - the risk of myocardial infarction is halved.

Tobacco addiction, unlike drug or alcohol addiction, does not lead to noticeable personal degradation even after a long time. A smoker most often has the necessary willpower and depth of intellect to quit smoking , which, with the participation of a qualified specialist, can become a guarantee quit smoking forever.

How does the body react to smoking cessation?

Based on official scientific sources, an approximate graph of changes in the body of an average smoker who quit smoking was compiled.

Information taken from the report by D. Hughes "Health consequences of smoking: report of the surgeon general". (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004), O'Connell, The Impact of Tobacco Withdrawal: Actual Symptoms and Timing, Nicotine and Tobacco Study, March 2007, etc.

  • After 20 minutes

Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and temperature in your hands and feet have returned to normal.

  • After 8 hours

Remaining nicotine in the bloodstream dropped to 6. 25% of peak daily levels while smoking, a 93.75% reduction.

  • After 12 hours

The oxygen level in the blood has risen to normal levels. Carbon monoxide levels dropped to normal.

  • After 24 hours

Your anxiety has reached its maximum intensity, you want to smoke, but you decide to quit and hold on like a staunch tin soldier. Over the course of two weeks, the tension will gradually decrease.

  • After 48 hours

Damaged nerve endings from smoking have begun to repair, and your sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Anger and irritability can reach a peak.

  • After 72 hours

Over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (chemicals) will be eliminated by the body through your kidneys. The withdrawal syndrome manifests itself in all its glory. The bronchi leading to the air sacs (alveoli) begin to relax. Breathing becomes easier and the functionality of your lungs begins to increase.

  • After 5 - 8 days

The average ex-smoker will experience undulating cravings and cravings. Any such episode will last about 3 minutes and in these minutes it is important not to give up. Keep your watch to yourself. And remember, the wise men said: "This too shall pass...".

  • After 10 days

The average ex-smoker experiences one to two craving episodes during the day, each less than 3 minutes. But these episodes become less frequent and weaker in severity.

  • 10 days to 2 weeks

Your recovery has probably accelerated to the point where your addiction no longer plagues you. The circulation in the gums and teeth is now close to that of a person who has never smoked.

  • 2 to 4 weeks

Smoking cessation conflict, agonizing anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia and depression are over. If you're still experiencing any of these symptoms, it's worth seeing a doctor to speed up your addiction recovery.

  • 2 weeks to 3 months

The risk of a heart attack has begun to decrease. Your lung function continues to improve.

  • After 21 days

The number of acetylcholine receptors that were activated in response to the presence of nicotine in the frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital and basal ganglia of the brain, thalamus, brainstem and cerebellar areas was significantly reduced.

  • 3 weeks to 3 months

Your general condition has improved significantly. The walk became more pleasant, it became easier to breathe. The chronic cough, if any, has most likely disappeared. If not, see your doctor, and don't delay, as a chronic cough can be a sign of lung cancer.

  • After 4 weeks

Plasma scores, which are biomarkers that predict the risk of developing diseases from diabetes to cancer in smokers, are now virtually indistinguishable from those of nonsmokers.

  • After 8 weeks

Insulin resistance in smokers normalized despite average weight gain (2.7 kg).

  • 1 to 9 months

Fatigue or shortness of breath improved. The lungs are clear and the risk of infection has decreased. The overall energy of your body has increased.

  • After 1 year

Excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke reduced to half the risk of a heavy smoker.

  • After 5 years

The risk of subarachnoid bleeding (bleeding into the cerebral cortex) has been reduced to 59% of the risk of smoking. For women, the risk of developing diabetes has approached the level of non-smokers.

  • 5 to 15 years old

Your risk of stroke has been reduced to that of a non-smoker.

  • After 10 years

The risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is 30% to 50% of that of a smoker.

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