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The Quitters Flu.

Man with Quitters FluHave you recently quit smoking and now find yourself feeling sick? You may be suffering from the quitters flu; a number of symptoms that combine in such a manner they  resemble a cold or flu like illness. Most smokers who quit will experience it.
 


What are the Quitters Flu Symptoms?

 
As mentioned above, quitters flu symptoms resemble those that tend to accompany the common cold or flu. These can be headaches, flashes of hot and cold, chest congestion, cough, sore throat and both nasal and sinus congestion.

The moment you quit smoking your body begins to heal and as a result, these physical symptoms will tend to occur. It is a normal part of the process, though discussing such symptoms with your doctor is still a good idea, even if for peace of mind and reassurance.

Perhaps the most notable of these flu like symptoms are those associated with the respiratory system.

A microscopic photo of cilia lining the human wind pipe. Image made available using creative commons licence.

The lungs contain small hair like structures called cilia. (They look more like sea anemones.) These cilia, naturally sweep particles out of the wind pipe to be expelled by coughing.

Tobacco smoke coats the lungs with tar and disrupts this process by preventing the cilia from working. When you quit smoking, the tar begins to break down and the cilia once again start cleaning.

Quitters will likely notice a blackish – brown and often speckled phlegm as a result. Given the amount of rubbish that builds up in a smokers lungs, this can be quiet extreme and often takes time to settle down.

The ability to breath easier and maintain a greater state of healthiness, more than make up for the unpleasantness of quitters flu. The symptoms of quitters flu should also start to settle after a few weeks.
 

How long does Quitters Flu Last?

 
The length of time you may suffer quitters flu symptoms is variable. Some ex smokers may only suffer the symptoms for a number of days. For others it can last for months. My own quitters flu lasted on and off for several months, though only extreme for short periods of time, most notably over the first couple of weeks.

Over the longer term, I found that exercise enhanced some of the symptoms, but also helped clear out my lungs. If the symptoms feel quite serious or last for more than a few days at a time, I would suggest speaking to a doctor as you may actually have a genuine cold or flu!

What I personally find interesting, is that since quitting smoking two years ago, I have only suffered a genuine cold (virus) twice, and suffered for no longer than 72 hours. Prior to quitting, I would suffer two or three colds a year and they would last for around two weeks!

 

Tips for Managing the Quitters Flu.

 

Rest During the Early Stages.

Quitters flu is at its worst in the early days of a quit smoking campaign. It may help to rest and be as comfortable as possible, while allowing the healing process to happen. Consider drinking warm herbal teas to aid relaxation and relieve some of the symptoms.

Eat Quality Foods and Micro Nutrients.

The body gets the majority of nutrients needed to heal, from the foods we eat. If these foods are of a high quality and have sound  nutritional value, the more building blocks your body will have to aid the process. Consider eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and less processed and over cooked foods.

When You Feel Ready, Get Some Exercise.

Exercise promotes healthy lung function and helps accelerates the cleaning process. Consider starting with a daily, fast paced, five minute walk around the block.


 

Comments

  1. Didn’t start on ciggy’s started on gunga after a car accident on 1/1/84 i was fit and healthy but after app 28 years of smoking i am now fitted with a pacemaker after heart attack 3 years ago stopped for 3 or 4 months back then but got stoned felt good and off i went.Stopped the gunga in September and started to cut down ciggy’s stopped on 1st December and last week or so have been feeling like shit totally but after reading Quitters Comments i realise that as strange as it seems it is part of the HEALING PROCESS and i also realise that lighting up would be giving up and that’s not an option,if i keep going EVENTUALLY this crappy throat this lethargy i am feeling and all these other little bibs’n’bobs that are trying to trip me up will disappear and i should start to feel like a NON SMOKER…..

  2. So it’s been a week. Cold turkey tobacco and weed. This quitters flu is still going. In anti biotics now. Hope it gets easier!

  3. hi i only smoked ciggys in joints and have been for 14 years about 3 a day gave up 4 days ago when all of a sunnen my heart starts beating really fast called a amblance they said i had tacycardic they took bloods xrays couldt find anything wrong so it sceared me so much that im to afraid to smoke anymore but today have been expierience cold and flu like syptoms is this normal? ?? Im 29 female

    • Cold and flu like symptoms are synonymous with withdrawal. I am sure you already know, nicotine is highly addictive, even if consumed in small amounts. I would still consult your doctor though.

  4. I’m into my second week of not smoking. I started with a severe sore throat 4 days after my last cigarette and I’m now feeling tragic with full on flu symptoms. As much as I’m feeling sorry for myself right now with a head that feels like it will explode at any minute and feeling like an elephant is sat on my chest I know that my body is working so hard repairing itself from the damage I have done to it over the years. This coupled with cravings is bound to make us feel lethargic, emotional and generally out of sorts but honestly nothing bad is happening quite the opposite really. Time is a great healer, don’t give up just give it a chance.

  5. Christopher says:

    I am now at hour 51, and this sucks. But the flu symptoms are so heavy that I don’t even think about cigarettes. Took a long time to poison myself, i think I can handle a couple weeks of misery. Does anyone else remember vomiting while trying to quit?

    • Hi Christopher, I don’t recall vomiting myself. Though I am sure some folk do. I would consider talking to your doctor and seeing if he/she can help. Hang in there!

    • I never vomited but got nauseous the first couple of weeks. I’m on week 5 now. I get short of breath now for some reason and was never before. That started the last few days. I’ve been using eucalyptus cough drops to help.

  6. Wow! These flu like symptoms are harsh. I look like the guy on the old Nyquil commercial. Sneezing, coughing, puffy eyes and my nose is gushing! Day 7……….Let me off this monster! Cigs are B A D!

  7. Its been 5 day now that I quit Smoking and going through this Quitters Flu phase. Everytime, while coughing, I spit yellowish phelgm. Its irritating as well as disgusting, however this time I have made up my mind for not touching Cigarette any more… FOR BETTER LIFE

  8. I quit smoking cigs and weed and drinking 3 weeks and 3 days ago after going to the er for lung damage from a bad batch of hash oil which messed my lungs up!!! the doctor says im lucky to be alive and the realization that i have a baby on the way and god putting me in check and working out like i go to work everyday was enough for me to stop, it has been hard but i havent gave in to the temptation of smoking.. quit cold turkey and me beeing a 5 year recovering addict to H can quit smoking i know all thoes other smokers can too… Keep going its worth your health in the end and not spending all that money for tobbacco companys products killing us… i rather buy a gun and a single bullet and do that way instead of spending thousands of dollars and the pain at the end of death. My grandpa died from lung cancer and i saw the pain he had to endure.. thats not for me.. KEEP your heads up and keep it up with not smoking!!

  9. I have been a heavy smoker for 10 years nd smoked weed aswell haven’t have a j or a cig fa 5 weeks now nd it’s been very hard I’ve had no tablets or patches jst done it on will power cos I have a lil girl t think about only thing that’s bothering me is I have a tight chest not really any pain jst feels dodgy I’ve gave it till tmoz t go see the doctors because it’s been like this fa about 5 or 6 days now

  10. Hello all I quit smoke jan.25 2014 after 20 years pack a day I have a weird feeling my throat since quit ( its not pain ) I’ve been to doc and had xrays blood work and all they have to say is allergies what do you people think

    • Hi Danny,

      I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that the weird feeling in the throat is the delicate tissue healing from the assault of smoking….I am 4 weeks quit today, and I have a strange sensation in my throat and in my ears. (It probably has something to do with high pollen counts and drainage from sinuses). I also feel like I make more saliva than before. I’ve actually drooled a few times. I think quitters all experience their own unique response to quitting the nicotine addiction….some seem to sail through it, others feel like they’re on death’s door and everything in between. I think you should feel good that your blood work and xrays have been clear. Keep up whatever it takes to stay healthy and away from the nicotine (I’ve begun to think of cigarettes as nicotine sticks instead of “cigs”). But, I do think the strange feeling in the throat is quite normal….If you’ve smoked for a long time, your body doesn’t really know what it is supposed to feel like without nicotine. Best wishes to us both!

  11. On day 3, so sick with the flu I can’t even move. But reading all these comments have been keeping me going, it’s good hearing from people who are going through the same. It’s totally worth being sick for the day, by Monday of not smoking I’ll have saved as much as I would have gotten paid for the day. I live in canada, last pack of smokes I bought was over $16!

  12. Sgtkeebler says:

    This smokers flu reminds me of quitting heroin. After you quit heroin you get extremely sick, usually bed ridden for 2 weeks with diarrhea, you can’t stop kicking your legs all night and day, so you extremely tired but ambient, or any sleeping meds will not knock you out!!! and you have the flu like 10x’s worse. I’m quitting smoking cigs, but after going through heroin withdrawal cigarette flu is a piece of cake. I would not wish heroin withdrawal on my worst enemies. I see people complaining how bad cig withdrawal is but try withdrawing off Heroin and you will wish you were withdrawing off cigs instead. lol just my 2 cents. trying to just say cig flu is really nothing

  13. Danny et al,
    I quit two months ago (for the 5th or 6th time) and I have a nagging post-nasal drip again. I got a script from my doc for a nasal solution which takes a few days or longer to work. The drip does go away finally. STAY OFF THE BUTTS folks!

  14. omg, THANK YOU! For everyone who has posted exactly what I am going through! Its been three full days without a smoke and getting over a severe sinus and double ear infection BUT I AM DONE smoking….cant take it anymore, please tell me the audible wheeze in my chest will go away, its driving me crazy! Keep up the good work all!

  15. It’s almost 48 hours since I had a cigarette. I’ve never felt so wired… About six hours ago I started to have pains in my chest and the back of my throat. At times the pain is a tight feeling. The pain also makes me nauseous and it’s not a really sharp pain but a dull one. I’m hopefully at the height of feeling so irritated. I’ve been smoking since I was sixteen- five years ago now. I know that a fortnight, or hell, even a few months of this I can handle. I’d rather die peacefully in seventy years time in my bed, than in ten years, hooked up to a breathing machine and fighting for every excruciating breath. Yeah, I can do this.

  16. after 37 years i have 88 days today i started soon as i learned how to strike a match i said something i never said before someone asked me for a cig and i said no i dont smoke no more i quit what a strange experience that was anyway this fresh air is making me dizzy on occasion i hope that changes once in a while i cant breathe and wheez a bit i had the sore throat and the double ear ache im hoping i get better

  17. Hi My name is Mary I did not get sick in order to stop said I am stopping used an e- cig did not like it,too costly first of all,then I went to a vape shop was OK for a bit but kept me coughing and still coughing,when I quit I would vomit green looking saliva now it is clear when I go to coughing hard that’s when i spit up whitish saliva but I have gain 20 pounds but I can breath so I keep cough drops or cough medicine in my purse smoke free since Oct,23,2013 not one cig,or vape shop ,,,,whoo hoooo

  18. Seven weeks it has been after 28 years feel great still have the words in my head -Just do it- Last 3 weeks nose will not stop running and sneezing which brought me to this site and answers some questions
    Booked in to the docs in the morning so will follow up and will never have even a puff again

  19. Those E cigs haven’t been around long enough, I don’t trust them, it is more chemicals you’re inhaling just different ones. You’re just switching monsters. Like drinking beer instead of vodka .

  20. Matt cook says:

    I agree Debra, I’ve tried quitting using various nicotine replacement in the past but I always go back. This time it’s cold turkey for me.

  21. I actually got really upset that a pack of cigarettes was $8. I bought them anyway.
    But that was the last pack I ever bought. (at least so far) I went the next day and bought an e-cigarette and all this fixings with a low dose of nicotine (comparable to the amount of cigarettes I smoked 3-5 a day). In 2 weeks I stepped that down to half. and by the end of a little over a month I have stopped entirely with ZERO cravings. I still drink alcohol, and don’t even have cravings then.
    While you’re not wrong, I do think that used as a cessation aid for a short period of time is less problematic than a life time of back and forth between smoking and not smoking.

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