Nicotine Withdrawal Timeline

Puja Lalwani Sep 30, 2018
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The timeline of nicotine withdrawal or the period when the effects of withdrawing from nicotine are at their peak is difficult but worth the restoration of good health. If you can make it through this period, you can save yourself a lifetime of health issues.
Those of you who have decided to stop smoking and give up the addiction to nicotine just saved yourselves years of misery in terms of both physical and psychological health, because the effects of nicotine on the body are seriously damaging in the long run. The side effects of quitting smoking are just little bumps in the way to a healthy lifestyle.
Nicotine remains in the body for about 3-4 days after a person quits smoking, and the withdrawal symptoms associated with it kick in within a few hours of quitting. They are at their peak after 24-48 hours of quitting.
This outlines the nicotine withdrawal symptoms timeline as stated by the Canadian Lung Association. Though this timeline varies based on the individual, the phases of nicotine withdrawal and effects it brings are common to all.

Severe mood swings characterized by anger, frustration, irritability, and depression- 2-4 weeks

This is the first sign of nicotine withdrawal, and occurs simply because your body is craving for this substance. It can cause a lot of frustration, and to get rid of it, you can vent it out in the form of exercise or some kind of relaxation activity.

Fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating - 2-4 weeks

As nicotine enhances alertness, its withdrawal from the body may result in tiredness and lack of focus. In such a case, it is best to take things slow and not try to force yourself to do more than you are able to.

Trouble sleeping/Insomnia - 1 week

Nicotine affects sleep patterns, and you stop its intake, it is likely to cause lack of and trouble during sleep. Also, since you are already facing trouble sleeping, it is imperative that you avoid the consumption of caffeinated products and alcohol.

Dry throat and cough, coughing up phlegm, mucus discharge, and/or postnasal drip - A few days

Coughing a lot after giving up nicotine indicates that the lungs are trying to clear themselves of all the junk in them. Hence, let the cough continue and try to spit out whatever the cough brings out. Drink a lot of water in this process, this will make you feel better within a few days.

Dizziness- 1-2 days

This happens mainly because the body is adjusting to the absence of nicotine in the body. All you need to do in this time is to be careful as to not allow the dizziness to affect you while you are standing/walking/working.

Tightness of the chest- A few weeks

Coughing continuously can make the muscles sore and cause tightness in the muscles. Lack of nicotine can also have the same effect. Breathe slowly and deeply to deal with the soreness.

Drastic increase in appetite- 2-4 weeks

As you have stopped smoking and there is no nicotine to suppress your appetite, it is likely that you start feeling more hungry than usual. However, it is important that you eat healthy food when you have such hunger pangs. Keep something with you so you can eat it every two hours, and drink lots of water. Chewing gum may also help in such cases.

Stomachaches and constipation

This is one of the immediate effects of nicotine withdrawal, and it will not last long. Just eat high-fiber food and drink plenty of water, as this will make you feel better.

More cigarette cravings - Strongest immediately after quitting

Addictions are formed because you are unable to bear the symptoms of withdrawal and need the drug to stop them. This is what you can expect when you immediately stop smoking. Try to keep yourself occupied as much as you can to overcome the desire for more nicotine.
Once you make it through the first few days, your resolve will become stronger. You may also try nicotine gum to make the withdrawal process a bit smoother.
Apart from the aforementioned symptoms, you are also likely to feel a little jittery and experience tingling in your hands and feet. These are all the effects of nicotine withdrawal that will pass in a few days as long as you don't succumb.
The benefits of quitting are visible in the long run, and it is only when you go through with it that you will be able to experience the benefits.
Studies reveal that when you stop smoking, over time your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke reduces considerably, making you as healthy as a non-smoker. This, of course, largely depends on how often and how long you have been smoking.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
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