Withdrawal or Quit Symptoms

The following list includes many of the normal symptoms of withdrawal, or symptoms you may have when quitting smoking or tobacco use. Nicotine is one of the chemicals that your body is craving and withdrawing from, but there may be other chemicals, as well.

Most people experience some of these symptoms of withdrawal, but rarely all of them. Each person's body responds a little differently when healing itself from tobacco use. But for most people, these discomforts are short-lived. Check with your doctor if you're concerned about a physical reaction you're having to smoking/ tobacco cessation or if your symptoms continue for a long time. There are medications that help to ease withdrawal symptoms so that quitting is more manageable.

Remember, the longer you have been tobacco-free, the better the withdrawal symptoms get! Within several weeks, your body is free of nicotine and healing itself from the effects of tobacco use.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Urges to smoke
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability, mood changes
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Impatience
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Mucus in lungs or during coughing
  • Constipation, gas, stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore tongue and/or gums
  • Postnasal drip
  • Tightness in the chest

 

Weight Gain

Many people worry about gaining weight if they quit smoking. Learn some facts about this possible side effect.

  • Quitting causes minor weight gain. Most people will gain less than 10 lbs after quitting smoking.
  • For both men and women, several groups are at risk for gaining more weight after quitting: African Americans, people under the age of 55, and people who smoke more than 25 cigarettes or more per day.
  • Health risks from smoking are much worse than minor weight gain. Health effects from smoking impact every organ in the body leading to cancer, stroke, heart disease, respiratory damage, infertility and impotence.
  • Exercise can be used as a healthy coping strategy and is a part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

References

Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence:  2008 Update.  Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.

Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence:  2008 Update.  Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.

 

This information has been approved by Amy Lukowski, PsyD (November 2011).

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