Side Effects of Quitting Smoking

Smoking is a leading cause of death in this country, as 1 in 5 deaths are a result of tobacco, smoking or a related illness. For this reason many people are looking to quit smoking, but worry about the side effects from nicotine withdrawal. What happens to your body when you quit smoking, and what are the “stop smoking” side effects?

The Good

There are immediate effects for your body that make quitting smoking a great idea. In addition to ending the social stigma of smoking, which has relegated you to huddling in the rain and snow, away from the building to nurture this habit; you will find your body immediately breathing the proverbial sigh of relief in lots of ways.

The first and most immediate change is in your blood pressure. It takes less than a half an hour to get your blood pressure to drop back to normal ranges. The carbon monoxide in your blood stream will begin to drop, and in less than 10 hours, it is reported to drop by half allowing oxygen levels to rebuild to normal levels.

Circulatory issues start to see major impact in just a few days. In about 2 days, the risk of heart attack from smoking begins to decline. It takes about 2 full days to get the nicotine out of your body. During this time you will start to see the effects of the elimination of nicotine, including a renewed sense of smell and an improvement of the sense of taste.

Respiratory effects take a couple more days to begin to emerge; with in the first days you will begin to feel your energy level increasing as your bronchial tubes begin to relax. Lung capacity will continue to improve over time with breathing, wheezing and coughing reducing within 3-9 months and capacity levels improving by as much as 10%. Ten years from stopping smoking your risk of lung cancer reduces to the same risk as a non-smoker.

Over time the good effects from quitting smoking will start to emerge. Other stop smoking side effects in the good column are improved circulation, which begins in the second week and continues to improve over the next ten weeks. This will reap long range benefits as within a year, the risk of a smoking induced heart attack may drop as much as 50%. Within 5 years of stopping smoking your risk of stroke may return to that of a non-smoker, and in 15 years the risk of heart attack post quitting smoking will be the same as a non-smoker.


The Bad

One of the fears for people gearing up to quit smoking is the fear of withdrawal or side effects from the absence of nicotine. The good effects of seeing your body return to normal levels should dissipate any concerns about the temporary effects of withdrawal. Stopping smoking side effects can be minimized with the addition of medications and nicotine delivery systems such as patches, inhalants and gums.

Some of the withdrawal impact or stop smoking side effects; include the resulting effects from the absence of nicotine, since nicotine stimulates the pleasure center the lack of it makes you feel edgy, irritable, and tired. This increases the craving, and then increases the edgy, fatigue feelings. Since smoking is often paired with other events, such as drinking alcohol, or driving a car or after eating a meal, for the person struggling to stop smoking the pair activity may increase the craving. This constant cycle can make the quitting more challenging.

The Ugly

The ugly truth about cigarettes is that you are likely to die from continual use. 1 in 5 of all the deaths in the US are from tobacco or smoking, even second hand smoke can cause fatal complications for the people around you. Health risks such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes all rise dramatically from smoking. People think cigarette smoke stinks, and you spend more time away from the buzz of activity as you huddle up in the rain, sleet and snow for one more drag. Within 15 years of the day you throw away your last pack, you can halt the damage and return to a normal risk range.

It is a challenging time to quit smoking and the stop smoking side effects can be frustrating and irritating. The first week or two of the quit plan can be mitigated by working with your medical professional to supplement your plan with medication, nicotine replacement products and to devise ways to stay busy and minimize the impact of the quitting smoking side effects.

So take a deep breath, consider the people that love you, and that you love and throw away that pack of cigarettes, dig deep and muscle through the withdrawal with a thoughtful program of support, nicotine replacement and new behaviors.