10 Side Effects of Quitting Smoking (and how to treat them)

The side effects of quitting smoking can be physical and psychological: bad mood, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, gastrointestinal problems, headache, weight gain, sleep disturbances, fatigue and dullness.

Quitting smoking has a series of side effects that can affect both physically and psychologically. It is estimated that approximately 85% of people who quit smoking have these secondary symptoms. They are responsible for quitting smoking to become such a difficult process and also the cause of relapse.

If you are thinking about quitting smoking, it can help to know these symptoms to be prepared and to face them when they appear. These effects can sometimes be very unpleasant but it is important not to lose sight of the main objective, and keep in mind that quitting is the most beneficial option at all levels, for oneself and for the people around us.

Also keep in mind that these side effects are temporary. Depending on the person may last a few days or a few weeks with greater intensity, but will end up disappearing completely with the passage of time. The first two weeks are those that are considered most critical, and specifically the first 48 or 72 hours after quitting.

Side Effects of Quitting Smoking

According to the studies carried out in this field, these unpleasant sensations usually last an average of 12 weeks depending on the person. After this period is over, the person often continues to experience the urge to smoke but it will not be a sensation that causes great discomfort and is also easy to control.

That is to say, once this critical period has passed, the person begins to feel much better, both physically and psychologically, as well as increasing their self-esteem due to the achievement achieved despite the difficulties that have arisen along the way.

Next we will point out the main side effects derived from quitting tobacco use and some guidelines to be able to cope with them. We will divide them into psychological and physical symptoms, we will make a brief description of each one and what are the main recommendations to face them.

Psychological side effects

1- Irritability and bad mood

Studies indicate that the most frequent negative emotions associated with quitting smoking are anger, irritability and frustration. It is common to be more tense, to be less tolerant of those around us and even to argue more. To deal with these emotions, different alternatives can be put into practice:

  • Repeat that these emotions are transient, last at most a few weeks and then return to the usual mood.
  • Warn people in the environment that in the coming weeks it is possible to appear changes in mood and irritability. It is also advisable to avoid conflicts as much as possible during this period.
  • Perform physical exercise as a form of escape and relief.
  • Use relaxation and / or meditation techniques that can help reduce accumulated tension.

2- Anxiety and intense desire to smoke

Nicotine is the main addictive substance of tobacco. This substance is harmful to health because it affects many parts of the body, such as the brain among others.

A person who smokes habitually is accustomed to having a certain level of nicotine in the body, so when he leaves, he feels the real need to smoke to maintain those levels. Here are some guidelines that can be followed to address this anxiety :

  • Repeat that this discomfort is temporary. Although the symptoms of anxiety are very unpleasant, it is necessary to keep in mind that they will last only a few weeks, and that in addition, over time the most critical moments will be spaced out. Each time the need will be less and will occur less frequently.
  • Avoid situations that have been associated with smoking. For example, a coffee after eating, or going outside to make rest at work. They are moments in which habitually takes advantage to smoke and that inevitably have been associated and can not be done one thing without the other. It is necessary to stop doing them in those critical weeks of greater abstinence , then you can recover these habits with total normality.
  • Find a substitute for the cigar. Every time the desire to smoke appears, you can take a candy, chew gum, eat a piece of fruit or even use steam cigarettes for a while.

3- Depression

Most people feel sad when they stop smoking, but in very few cases it turns into episodes of major depression.

These cases usually occur only when there is a history of depression. We can implement different strategies to combat it:

  • Make plans and be busy as much as possible. Whether at work, making plans with friends or solo activities. Staying busy and active is one of the best ways to counteract the symptoms of depression.
  • Look for small prizes or rewards to congratulate and encourage us to move forward.
  • Perform physical exercise
  • Consult a professional in case the symptoms persist.

4- Lack of concentration

According to studies in this field, approximately 60% of people who quit smoking experience a lack of concentration in the first two weeks. It seems that the main cause is because we focus all our resources and our attention on the process of quitting smoking and therefore neglecting others.

It is usual at this stage to make mistakes at work, not to be able to study properly or to suffer small forgetfulness and forgetfulness. Some indications to better deal with these symptoms are:

  • Remember that it is something temporary. The lack of concentration lasts approximately two weeks, then you will return to your normal state of concentration. Not remembering this can lead us to despair and throw in the towel, therefore it is very important to keep this in mind.
  • Help yourself with an agenda, notes or reminders in which to write all the appointments, meetings or important tasks that you have to carry out in those days.

Physical side effects

5- Gastrointestinal problems, constipation, diarrhea and / or nausea

Although they do not always appear, gastrointestinal problems are frequent and, above all, constipation appears after smoking cessation.

This is because nicotine is a stimulant of the digestive system and when this substance is no longer in the body it is necessary for the intestine to adapt to normal activity again. Some of the recommendations to mitigate these symptoms are:

  • Drink lots of liquids and especially water.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, cereals and ultimately any food that contains a lot of fiber.
  • Practice exercise on a regular basis.

6- Headache

These pains can appear after quitting because the carbon monoxide ingested with tobacco is no longer present in the body. Some guidelines to keep in mind to face it are:

  • Remember that this state is temporary and that pains are a usual symptom when quitting smoking.
  • Use deep, conscious or diaphragmatic breathing to relax the body.
  • Practice exercise on a regular basis.
  • If the pains are very frequent and acute consult your doctor. In some cases it may be advisable to use medication to reduce the intensity of pain, but always under the prescription of a health professional.

7- Weight gain

Studies indicate that most people gain weight when they stop smoking. But only in a low percentage does it end up becoming a health problem.

In most cases this weight gain is due to the fact that stopping smoking increases appetite. Here are some guidelines to counteract it:

  • When the appetite appears and the need to snack between hours take advantage to take healthy foods or infusions. They can also be replaced with chewing gum and sugar-free candy.
  • Perform physical activity on a regular basis.
  • If it is considered necessary to consult with a professional nutritionist to facilitate the guidelines to follow and establish correct eating habits.

8- Alterations in the dream

It is common in the first weeks after quitting smoking to appear different sleep disturbances. On the one hand, they may wake up in the middle of the night with the desire and cravings to smoke. Dreams related to tobacco or relapse into addiction may also appear.

And it is also very common for problems of insomnia to appear and difficulty in falling asleep. That this happens is normal, because as we have commented previously, all the corporal rhythms have to be adjusted again and the dream is one of them. Some recommendations that we can follow when this happens:

  • Use relaxation techniques and / or deep breathing when we wake up at night or before going to sleep.
  • Take a shower of warm water or read just before bed to be as relaxed as possible when we go to bed.
  • If insomnia or alterations persist, it is advisable to consult a health professional who can help to combat them.

9- Generalized tiredness and weakness

As we have already mentioned, nicotine functions as a stimulant of the organism, which is why, after stopping smoking, it is common for these symptoms to appear.

On the other hand, as some studies indicate, the process of detoxification in which the body is immersed seems to be also responsible for the onset of fatigue and fatigue. Some guidelines we can follow to mitigate these symptoms are:

  • Sleep the number of hours needed to rest properly. Although the number varies depending on each person and their needs, it is usually between 7 and 8 hours a day.
  • Avoid the use of stimulants such as caffeine, teine, etc. in the afternoon or evening so that they can not influence the rest.
  • Eat healthy and balanced. Eat fruit, vegetables and cereals abundantly.

10- It is possible that after quitting smoking appears dizziness and feeling of dullness

It usually occurs just in the first days after quitting and according to the studies, it occurs in a low percentage of people (around 10%). It seems that the main cause is because the lungs begin to receive more oxygen than they are used to.

These dizziness usually last only a few seconds and occur in the first days after quitting. Some indications to mitigate the effects of this symptom are:

  • Do not perform tasks that require overexertion in the days just after.
  • Perform the movements more slowly or less abruptly. For example, get up slowly from a chair, or sit first on the bed instead of getting up suddenly.

Although many people manage to stop smoking without external help, in other cases it is necessary to go to a health professional who can guide us. There are different methods and therapies (both individual and group) that have proven their effectiveness in this field.

Also Read: Is It Bad to Smoke Marijuana for Your Health?

In any case knowing the symptoms that are going to suffer after quitting will help us to cope. It is important to remember that in all cases they are passengers, that the discomfort will disappear in a few weeks and that the benefits that we are going to achieve in the long term always have more weight than these temporary symptoms.