Quit Smoking? What are the Side Effects?

Authored by Beth Inman in Addiction
Published on 09-18-2009

It is not easy to flush years of nicotine and tar from your body. It is not only hard to break the habit of reaching for a cigarette; you will also have to learn to deal with the side effects of quitting as well. Through it all, never forget the ultimate goal; to be smoke free and healthier. As you work through quitting, focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Not only will you feel better, you will look better. Your teeth will be whiter and you won’t smell like cigarettes all the time. You will also find it is easier to perform physical activities and food will have a completely different taste. Most symptoms will only last a few weeks.

Planning ahead will help you get through the transition from smoker to nonsmoker. While many of the changes will require adjusting your lifestyle, there will also be changes within your body. It is important to realize that the unpleasant side effects are temporary.

Many people experience weight gain when quitting cigarettes. Everyone does not experience weight gain, but for those who do gain, this can contribute to depression. Depression is a natural side effect of quitting and proper planning can often help. If you are concerned about weight gain, plan an exercise program. If possible, join a gym. This will often help to advance your goal but controlling your weight and increasing your heart and lung strength.

Nicotine triggers the release of sugar from some organs and when quitting cigarettes, the release of sugar is slowed considerably. Your first few cigarette free days will find you craving sweets. You may also experience dizziness and inability to concentrate. This is due to the drop in body sugar levels. Reaching for that candy bar or cookie pushes you in the direction of unwanted weight gain. Plan ahead and stock up on fresh veggies such as carrots that contain a natural sugar and will not add up to pounds on the hips. Juice is very helpful during this period as well.

Nausea and sometimes constipation are experienced when quitting smoking. Your body is going through some pretty serious changes. Headaches are very common as well. While you may think you are going to die from a headache, you won’t. This is just another temporary side effect.

It is not uncommon to develop respiratory problems such as a cold. Your lungs are working hard to clear out all that nicotine and tar. Runny noses, coughing and shortness of breath are pretty common.

The toughest part about quitting smoking is the depression. Your cigarettes were there for you and now they are gone. You can expect to feel very anxious and lay awake through several sleepless nights. Many people experience dramatic mood swings when quitting smoking. It is not uncommon to go from sadness to anger at the drop of a hat. Express to your friends and family before you begin your quit period that you are quitting smoking and what they should expect. If your family understands that your mood swings are just a temporary side effect and you really are not angry with them things will be easier for all of you. Support from your family is very important when quitting smoking.


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