How To Survive Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms
So, you've finally decided to kick the habit. First off, congratulations! As with many addictions, the initial resolution to quit is perhaps the most important step because it shows you have the willpower to become happier and healthier.
It's no secret that smoking is the pathway to potentially fatal diseases. As our society is becoming more health-conscious, many people are moving away from cigarettes in favour of healthier alternatives.
We'd be lying if we said that giving up smoking is easy, because it's not. You'll have to deal with the withdrawal symptoms and stay strong, even though tobacco is everywhere and highly accessible.
The good news is, you can do it.
In this post, we'll explore what happens when you stop smoking and offer tips so you can succeed, reap the benefits of giving up smoking and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Irritation and bad mood
When you're so used to smoking and decide to give up, it's common to feel irritated and moody. The symptoms will ease as your body becomes accustomed to no tobacco, but the endocrine system takes some time to adjust to life without nicotine.
Many people report experiencing bad moods during the initial withdrawal from smoking, but the good news is they will subside with time. However, it's always a good idea to tell people you're quitting smoking because they'll be more understanding if you experience some mood swings.
Dealing with mood swings
Mood swings are part and parcel of the withdrawal process, but you can use meditation to help you deal with the mood swings.
Mindfulness helps you stay in the present and focus on one thing instead of letting distractions get in your way, and the NCBI reports that meditation can be a helpful quit-smoking tool too.
For many people, weight gain is one of the worst things about quitting smoking. Quitting itself doesn't immediately cause you to gain weight, but the lack of hand-to-mouth action that smokers are used to can lead to overeating.
According to Medline Plus, the average smoker gains between five to ten pounds when they give up, as nicotine is known to speed up the metabolism by around 7-15%. When you disrupt your hormones, drops in blood sugar are commonplace, and they can cause people to crave carb-heavy foods (which we all know are the gateway to a larger waistline).
How to prevent weight gain
If you quit smoking with a positive attitude, you might notice that you can deal with the sugar cravings more. However, there are some ways to counteract the urge to overeat, so you won't have to think about losing weight in the future.
Yes, sugar-free gum is one of the more popular ways to quit smoking, as it gives you something to focus on and ensures you won't pile on the pounds.
Stock up on healthy foods
The saying out of sight out of mind applies here, and the best way to prevent binging on sugary foods is to make sure you don't have any at home. If you swap chocolate and sweets for fruits and keto foods, you'll be able to navigate through the withdrawal symptoms.
Drink lots of water and tea
Water and herbal teas are excellent drinks for your health and can reduce sugar cravings. If you're not a fan of plain water, you can swap it for sparkling water or choose a brand with added fruits.
Switch up your snacking
The great thing about living in a more health-conscious society is that you have plenty of snack options. Companies like Graze offer pre-portioned packs of mixed nuts, fruits and healthier alternatives to your favourite treats.
People respond to withdrawal symptoms differently, with some feeling excessively tired, while others might report insomnia. When you stop smoking, the interruption to your dopamine levels can cause sleep disturbances, but it's a common symptom which will fade over time.
Smokers typically have more disturbed sleep than non-smokers anyway, so quitting might create some short-term issues, but they will get better over time.
Dealing with sleep disturbances
If you do notice that you're struggling with sleep, there are some things you can do to improve the problem. For excessive sleepiness, getting a lot of exercise during the day is crucial, as this will wake you up and help you sleep better at night.
Individuals with insomnia can take steps to improve their sleep habits by reducing their caffeine intake and making sure their bedrooms encourage sleep. There should be no light, and the room should be just over 18 degrees Celsius.
Hot drinks before bed and long baths can also help relax the muscles, and progressive muscle relaxation will help you fall asleep too.
Nicotine withdrawal cravings
Nicotine cravings are one of the most challenging things a person can go through, as nicotine itself is the most addictive element of cigarettes and rolling tobacco.
When your body is used to nicotine, the receptors in your brain automatically crave it, which leads to mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
Dopamine is the feel-good hormone, and nicotine automatically triggers it, as do most addictive substances. However, these cravings usually last for ten minutes, and some people manage to deal with them, while others might struggle more.
How to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms
While nicotine is a highly addictive substance, it's also relatively harmless compared to the tar, carbon monoxide and other chemicals found in tobacco, which cause various cancers and heart disease.
Nicotine replacement therapy can benefit your health because it keeps people away from tobacco.
In the past, NRT products would include lozenges, nicotine gum and inhalers, but electronic cigarettes have become more popular in recent years.
These devices use an oil-based, nicotine-infused liquid which heats up to create a vapour and are much safer than traditional cigarettes. While vape kits contain some chemicals, specialists confirm these aren't as dangerous as those found in tobacco products (Gov.UK).
According to the National Institute For Health and Care Research (NIHR), e-cigarettes are twice as effective in helping people quit smoking as other nicotine replacement products.
As they replicate the hand-to-mouth action of cigarettes and offer e-liquids in various flavours, you can kick the habit for good without losing your nicotine hit.
Another benefit of vaping is it enables you to gradually reduce your nicotine levels safely, rather than quitting cold turkey.
Many people report developing a cough when they quit smoking, but this is a good thing. When you smoke, you damage the lining (cilia) of your lungs, and this causes them to stop working and flatten.
When you remove tobacco from your lungs, they'll kick back into action and attempt to push the toxins out of your system. You'll cough a lot more when this happens because your body is trying to repair itself and let your respiratory system regenerate.
Reducing coughing symptoms
Once your lungs begin to clear, the coughing will stop in time. However, some ways to reduce the symptoms include drinking a lot of water and getting a humidifier to purify the air.
Some people also drink warm water with honey and lemon or use cough syrups to improve their symptoms, but the important thing to remember is that this will pass.
Yes, the dreaded quitter's flu is an infamous symptom of quitting smoking, and many people report cold-like symptoms at the beginning of the withdrawal process. You might notice a slight fever, coughing fits, a runny nose and body aches for a short time.
These side effects are completely normal, and they will improve, so there's not much you can do to counteract them. However you can use painkillers and cold medicines to help, but as the flu will only last for two to four days, it's a natural part of the quitting process and nothing to worry about.
As we mentioned, smoking speeds up the metabolism while quitting slows it down. Of course, this can cause plenty of issues with your digestive system, and many people will experience some form of constipation for a short time.
Nicotine replacement therapy can help reduce the risk of constipation, and it should only last up to two weeks. You can treat the symptoms yourself by swapping fried foods, dairy and red meat for fruit, white meat and fibre-rich foods.
How long does it take to recover from the physical and psychological symptoms completely?
There's no doubt that stopping smoking is one of the most difficult things you can do, but with the proper support, it is possible. Some people might believe that they've already caused damage to their body, and stopping now wouldn't make a difference, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Quitting tobacco at any point in your life has many benefits, and this timeline can help you understand why it's never too late to stop.
Here's what you can expect when you go smoke-free:
Day One: Your carbon monoxide levels begin to drop while oxygen levels increase.
Week One: You'll notice a stronger sense of taste and smell.
Three Months: The lungs will be more successful at removing tar, and you won't cough as much.
Year One: Fewer difficulties breathing, and you'll be able to exercise more.
Five Years: The risk of cancer and heart disease will significantly decrease.
20 Years: You'll have the same risk of lung cancer as someone who's never smoked.
As you can see, the journey is worth it because it can do wonders for your health. While it might take years to reduce your risk of cancer, quitting improves your overall health and gives your immune system a much-needed boost.
Are you ready to quit smoking?
There are many benefits of quitting smoking, and you can enjoy a happier and healthier lifestyle without constantly worrying about the future. Smoking can lead to heart disease, various cancers and a change in appearance, so saying goodbye to tobacco could be the best decision you ever make.
Better still, you can avoid the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal by using vape kits to reduce nicotine cravings and keep you on track.
Vaping as a way to reduce smoking withdrawal symptoms
Many people have kicked their tobacco habit through vaping.
With so many e-liquids to choose between, you'll never miss the taste of cigarettes, and a lot of people report that they prefer vaping because it offers a more authentic flavour. Tar and carbon monoxide mask the true taste of tobacco, but e-liquids bring out the woody flavours and the caramel notes shine.
You can also choose fruit, dessert and sweets flavours, so there's something for everyone.
Is it easy to quit smoking? No. But it is worth it, and electronic cigarettes are the best way to manage cravings.
All you need to do is make the switch, and give yourself time to adjust over the first few weeks. We guarantee that in due course, you'll wonder why you ever sparked up a cigarette.