Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline.

Welcome to the Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline, a quick reference guide for smokers who want to find out what happens when you quit smoking. This timeline is variable and dependent on an individual’s level of addiction.  Some will experience all of the day to day quit smoking symptoms and side effects of nicotine withdrawal, while others may only experience a few.

Please note, if you are looking for a timeline on how the body repairs itself as opposed to stages of withdrawal, please be sure to check out the post, What are the Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking?


Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline

Stage One

First 7 Days

Side Effect – Chronic Physical Cravings.

Chronic physical cravings begin shortly after quitting then rapidly increase in intensity until they peak somewhere between 48 and 120 hrs, at which point they begin to gradually weaken. Physically, this is the toughest stage of the quit smoking and withdrawal process.

Having a greater awareness of how and why cravings occur can go along way toward making this quit smoking symptom more manageable…

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Side Effect – Irritability and Intense Mood Swings.

These are largely influenced by cravings and will peak at roughly the same time as cravings. If the smoker is also quitting caffeine, the symptom may be worse. With a bit of planning and know how, this quit smoking symptom can also be better managed on a day to day basis…

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Side Effect – Intense Fatigue.

A smoker begins an intensive healing process when they quit smoking. This process can severely fatigue the mind and body. Again, if the smoker is also quitting caffeine the symptom may be worse. It is important to get as much rest as possible and explore ways that can potentially help by combating the fatigue and tiredness that come with quitting smoking…

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Side Effect – Headaches.

It is not unusual for people to experience headaches when they first quit smoking. It is possible that the headaches experienced during nicotine withdrawal are the result of fluctuating serotonin levels. This is also a common symptom of caffeine withdrawal. Again, there are some things you can do to manage the head aches on a day to day basis…

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Side Effect – Chest Discomfort.

Smokers may experience a tight and uncomfortable feeling in their chest. This just goes away with time. Some ex smokers may also experience sharp pains in the chest, and while this may be normal, it really is a good idea to speak to your doctor and have your lungs checked. Even if only for peace of mind.


Side Effect – Constipation.

Nicotine and tobacco smoking interfere with normal digestive functions. Upon quitting smoking the digestive system undergoes a radical period of healing. Because of this, the digestive functions of your body may become unsettled as they become accustomed to a life without nicotine and tobacco smoke. For many ex smokers, this manifests as constipation…

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Side Effect – Flu and Cold Like Symptoms.

As the respiratory system heals, smokers will experience cold and flu like symptoms. The day to day symptoms can be headaches, flashes of hot and cold, chest congestion, cough, sore throat and nasal congestion.  The smoker will also likely begin coughing up tar…

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Side Effect – Increased Hunger and Weight Gain.

Nicotine is an appetite suppressant. When nicotine users quit they tend to experience an increase in their appetite. Food, particularly sugary foods, increase dopamine levels and may decrease severity of cravings. There are ways to minimise the weight gain…

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Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline

Stage Two

7 – 21 Days


Side Effect – Moderate to Severe Cravings for Cigarettes.

The chemical dependency to nicotine is significantly weakened by around days 5-7. However, there is still significant healing required throughout the brain and cravings will still occur, though not as physically intense or long lasting. Many cravings will also be related to emotions and everyday memories that are still associated with smoking. They will begin to weaken over time and ebb and flow in severity.

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Side Effect – Moderate to Severe Irritability and Mood Swings.

Again, this side effect is largely influenced by the intensity of cravings.

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Side Effect – Mild to Moderate Fatigue.

As the now ex smoker, approaches the 2 week mark, fatigue levels will start to drop. Many ex smokers will begin to experience greater levels of energy.

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Side Effect – Headaches.

Headaches should begin to clear up by the end of the first two weeks.

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Side Effect – Mild Chest Discomfort.

This should weaken significantly once the chemical dependency is overcome. It may persist in a much milder state, alongside cravings.


Side Effect – Constipation.

This will likely persist in varying degrees of intensity.

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Side Effect – Flu and Cold Like Symptoms.

This will likely persist in varying degrees of intensity. The ex smoker will likely cough up more tar, more often as the lungs begin to clean out.

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Side Effect – Increased Hunger and Weight Gain.

This will likely persist in varying degrees of intensity and be tied in with cravings.

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Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline

Stage Three

3 – 12 Weeks.


Side Effect – Mild to Moderate Cravings for Cigarettes.

Ex Smokers will progressively notice large gaps between cravings. There will likely be a number of spikes in relative intensity during this period, followed by a significant decrease in cravings. By week 6, most ex smokers are well and truly in control as the chemical dependency is well and truly beaten. By 12 weeks, levels of nicotine receptors in the brain should be equal to that of a non smoker and cravings from here on are triggered by habitual behaviors and emotions.

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Side Effect – Mild to Moderate Irritability and Mood Swings.

Mood swings will become far less intense as cravings  weaken and become more manageable.

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Side Effect – Mild Constipation.

The digestive system should be back to normal by the end of this period.

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Side Effect – Mild Flu and Cold Like Symptoms.

These symptoms will become a lot less frequent.

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Side Effect – Mild Hunger and Weight Gain.

By the end of this period, ex smokers should be in a much better position to manage weight gain.

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By the 12 week mark, most ex smokers will feel comfortable with their new lifestyle.


Quit Smoking Side Effects Timeline

Stage Four

3 Months – 24 Months


Side Effect – Very Mild and Infrequent Cravings.

Cravings progressively weaken to the point of almost being non existent. A six month ex smoker will likely experience very weak urges that add up to seconds per day as opposed to minutes. However, this period is still risky, as the periodic “walls” of cravings may become frustrating. These walls and urges will continue to weaken and by 12 months, most if not all ex smokers will go weeks even months between craves.

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  1. Its been 5 week of NO cigarette and no alternate like patches/gums. My Blood Pressure rose to 180/100 AFTER QUIT SMOKING. Before quit my average BP is 140/90 or max 160/100. Is it normal?

    • Yes, it is completely normal. It is most likely due to anxiety/depression you are experiencing. Please do not let this increase convince you that smoking will reduce your blood pressure, or smoking helps keep your blood pressure in check. Think about it, it sounds ridiculous even saying that smoking helps. It does not! Your brain will try anything to convince you to get back to smoking.

  2. I am on day 33 smoke free, I feel absolutely great every now and again I still get the urge but I will not smoke again EVER. Congratulations to everyone who has stopped and for those that are wanting to stop it is not easy but what an awesome feeling once you have. WELL DONE TO ALL EX SMOKERS :)

  3. I quit smoking after 20 yrs on my birthday last week. My birthday wish for myself. Today is my 7th day, and the first few days were easy as I was out and about on a trip with a non smoker friend.

    I feel much better but I miss isn’t sometimes. You guys are right, the craving lasts usually for a few minutes and it will go. Wish me luck!

    • its better you should never think that there is a thing called cigarette. i am suffering now with more breathing problems. so never ever think about restarting the poison again. i will get cure as i started working out in gym. wish u all the best.

  4. 24 days ago at age 47 and after 28 years smoking a pack a day I decided to quit after my doctor said: There is a chance of lung cancer due to increasing the WBC and we need to repeat all the tests! Well, it was an alert and I stopped smoking right away. The lab test (blood and CT scan) later on showed everything is fine and there is no cancer, but I DID QUIT SMOKING with no help (patches, gums,…)

  5. Hope your doing well

  6. This will be my Week 5 since my last cigarette :) I believe we have done extremely well giving up on the addictive smokes… It wasn’t easy but then I started having chest pains (still do now) that I actually decided to quit

  7. yournamehere says:

    Today I felt kinda funny. Like as if I was on drugs or something. Never felt like this before. Don’t think it’s bad, and don’t know why? Then I realized that I have not had a cigarette in two years almost to the day. Kinda wondering if there is some lengthy side effect or something. Weird. All in all, I remember what it was like being a 27 year smoker. Miserable. I actually cannot even think of a reason why I liked it. It made me feel like crap most of the time. The cough. The stinky mess. Couldn’t jog a block without feeling like I was going to die. Havn’t had an allergy, or got sick in over a year, which has never happened since I was a kid. Sometimes it gave me some brain fog. Sometimes I felt like I was just going to fall over, and black out. Didn’t ever realize how much bad stink was in my life until I got my nose to work the way it is supposed to at least 6 months later. Realized what it is like to kiss an ashtray. Yuk!!! The only reason I can ever think of doing what I did, was because of my unstable frame of mind. Be it abuse, neglect, disorders, all of the above, or whatever. I put myself in a challenging position to free myself of burdens in life that rendered me vulnerable. Incapable. I chose to not believe in things that rendered me helpless, or put me down, and empowered myself to be impeccable. I threw it down on the ground. It is behind me. I don’t look back. What I felt today was glorious compared to what I felt like two years ago. The addiction is not the drug. The addiction is the mind. You cannot stop without it, nor would you be reading this. Empower yourself. Be impeccable.

    • not smoking anymore says:

      Cheers to u mate. i quit 5 days ago.. I relate to what u are saiying .. Keep it up and have a nice life ..

  8. ismokedandiregret says:

    I am turning 45 and been smoking since 17.. I worked out and ran a lot and I would smoke after exercising and smoke after I ate. I quit smoking at age 35 for 3 yrs – and smoked again
    at age 39. I decide to quit 10 weeks ago. My worse day is 7 cigs a day and I actually got down to 2 a day before calling it quits.. I had a relapse after 1 week of no smoking – started to have flu like symptoms and ended up in urgent care.. Got a really bad sinus infection , had a hard time breathing, really bad headache.. that was enough to scare me.. I am on my 9th week of no cigs yesterday.. I was at a party a week ago a bunch of people were smoking – I did not light one up but I think the second hand smoke got to me and I am now feeling some really weird physical symptoms.. I get really dizzy to the point I feel like I am going to topple over and faint.. sometimes I even feel like I am leaning to my left when I walk.. I get hunger pains . the dizzy spells occur through out the day and it comes in waves.. I’ve had a blood test done and CT SCAN everything was normal.. I have an appointment to see ENT next week.. And now there’s a new annoyance- constipation! I drink lots of water.. use bnasal spray for my nose just in case..
    Has anyone gotten these types of withdrawals at this time frame? first week was wanting that cigarette.. 2nd week I got the prickly throat, heart palpitations, cold sweat, and feeling of your entire bronchial system swelling and constricting to the point you feel like your breathing thin air..and 3rd week everything slowly dissipitated .. 4th to 7th week was awesome.. like everything was normal and I never smoked in my life.. why is this happening now?? it’s freaking me out and I don’t want to smoke anymore but I want this dizziness to go away!! is this part of the process?

    • I quitted in early July this year after almost 30 years of smoking. over one pack per day and almost 2 packs before when I was 20 somethings to 30 years old. When I quitted, I just quit and never had the feeling to get a cigarette anymore. I feel extremely good because I never thihk of smoke again, My blood pressure go down a bit at 130-135/90-95. Drink more water than before. The only thing I cannot stand is the spittle I having now made me very uncomfortable. Everytime when I started to eat, the spittle will come out and make you cannot swallow…I just hate it..

    • Yes it’s a part of the process. I have been smoke free for 8 months now. And I had the same issues as you for the first 3 months. It will get better I promise you. I still have cravings at 8 months smoke free but not nearly as bad the first three months… Hang in there, lord knows I am. I’m 48 years old, and no longer a smoker… The dizziness will fade, and you’ll slowly get your life back.

  9. 9 weeks since last puff. Getting horrible mood swings, but managing it I believe. I do the soft ball squeeze with out the actual balls but it helps a lot to reduce the freaking rage. I am 43 and have been a smoker for 15 years.

    Well done all of us :) great site.

  10. Congratulations to everyone……take a good look at yourself in the mirror and pat yourself on the back and tell yourself – GOOD JOB!!!! I had my last cigarette August 31, 2015. With the help of the good Lord I’ve been taking it one day at a time. I like the idea of the soft ball squeeze from Hamji. Great idea!!

  11. Just think how much better you smell because you don’t smoke. You hair, clothes, breathe! :)

  12. Day 8….Doing pretty well, just a lot of headaches. Congrats to all – not an easy feat, but will be well worth it down the road! Stay strong :)

  13. I have been smoke free for 3 months and I am still really struggling with the severe mood swings and irritability. As-well as I constantly feel as if I am coming down with something , I never ever got ill and threw up before “unless I drank to much haha” I have also gain at least two stone in weight. I was i pretty good shape but now am worried stopping is have a reverse effect. I am twenty five years old and had been smoking for ten years. Is there any person that has a answer to feeling better. plus i cannot stand the short breathless situation!!!

    • Try breathing exercizes. Breath slowly in through your nose and then exale slowly through your mouth.
      Try to breath in as deep as possible. Keep doing it (10-15 times) until you feel slitghly dizzy.
      Then relax and enjoy the resulting sense of well being.

  14. Bob Vaughn says:

    75 years old, 50 years of smoking, off for 7 weeks feeling great

  15. It’s been just about a year since I quit smoking and I’ve never felt better,but when I first quit I had a heck of a time , it started with most of your common complaints I see here, -but I suggest to go see your doctor asap cause mine helped me through it all- (sarcasm). I’m on xanax for the anxiety,losartan and metopral for hypertension,cymbalta for depression,and miscellaneous medications for lung and/or throat infections when they arise,and I’m only 37 years old and not a day goes by where I wish I never started smoking in the first place, good luck to you all

  16. Its been 6 months and I am craving it just as bad as the first week. I dont think I can hold out anymore. The urge to smoke is driving me crazy!

  17. 13 days without smoking, i feel fresh, im enjoying the food, Gym is great, i can smell my cologne now even after work, its just a marvellous experience. I havent used anything to stop, just decided im tired. we can all do it. i know some of you are thinking 13 days isnt enough to confident telll yourself you have quit. BELIEVE ME, I WILL NEVER SMOKE AGAIN. good luck to all of you.

  18. Coming up on 5 weeks without a smoke. Good luck to all of you who are thinking about quitting and in the process of quitting.

  19. Day one of not smoking! Just reached the 24 hour mark. I have quit many times for various time lengths! The last time I quit was for 2 years! I have currently been smoking for 1.5 years! I am using the patch this time! I am full of anxiety and I crave a cigarette! Thank you for your stories to help motivate! I think each time I try it gets harder!

  20. I have been a smoker for over 20 years and last Friday I decided, enough was enough. I am on day seven. I have been inhaling Thieves Essential Oil when a craving hits me and so far so good. I have stopped carry this bottle with me everywhere I go because I don’t want to create a new habit. Overall, I’m feeling pretty strong and extremely happy with my decision.

  21. Hi everyone. My last cigarette I had was two weeks and four days now, wow. I get the crave but i know it will go away. I’ve been smoking since I was 16 years old and now I’m 23 years old. When I was 20/21 I quit for 7 months and started back up again. I went to a doctor’s appointment for a check up and doctor called me with some news I have abnormal cells on my cervix. I did some research and one of the bullets pin pointed stated that smoking increases the cancer. That did enough to scare me. I have not smoked a cigarette since finding out. I’ve been more cautious in taking care of my physical and mental health. All of you are extraordinary for quitting. Keep up the amazing work. I’m glad to have Googled and come across the page for inspiration and motivation.

  22. I’m into my 4th week and going strong, but I’m getting indigestion type symptoms, is that linked to the giving up smoking?

    • Kerry Keena says:

      Hi Richard I’m on 8 weeks stopped now I have the indigestion gas feelings almost feels sore inside I’m also struggling with sob I’m on tablet for anxiety at the moment also steroids and strong anti bio tics I’ve smoked for 30 years im 49 years old just had chest X-ray which came back clear

  23. Kerry Keena says:

    Hello everyone thought I would share my quit experience with you I been smoking 30 years I’m 49 now I’m asthmatic also I decided to quit as was getting frequent lung infections and mucus in my throat I quit 23/09/15 and haven’t cheated at all I can honestly say I don’t want too, this has been a very stressful year for me and my health I found I have a large gallstone that I’m also on menopause and have trapped nerve in my groin which caused me to leave work as the pain was excruciating after standing for a few hours up to now ihave always been very active relatively healthy etc my experience with quitting well what can I say anxiety stress cravings insomnia aches pains severe shortness of breath lung pain upper back pain stiff neck tense muscles coughing sore throat etc etc I wonder when it will end but I know I have put my body through this for long enough it seems only right it would put me through these awful feelings of ridding all the nasty toxins, I have to say with all honesty I thought that I was dying I got my self in such a state googling all my symptoms and reaching my own scarey diagnosis I ended up not being able to breath going to the Drs and being told I have severe anxiety and stress and depression ??? Imagine being told this a few weeks after having your dream wedding ?? which I know realise has made these symptoms made me feel so much worse !! I’ve been given tablets to help with this but after reading a few quitting forums I realised I’m not alone others are suffering horribly the same as me ! It kind of comes in a strange way as a huge relief not that I want others to suffer just to know I’m not alone, also I’ve learned lots of new ways to help me like the deep breathing, steam inhalation to help remove mucus etc etc you kind of think you will instantly feel better but realistically why would you ? I have to admit I was kind of naive and can now understand why people say they felt healthier smoking ! Not that I ever would gin but I truly believe smoking does most definitely mask things, I’m trying to keep active, although I have never been an exerciser I am walking and keeping myself busy in the house I do eat really health due to my gallstones, I am due the op but can’t have taken steroids for 6 weeks before I can have it ! Kind of a catch 22 as need my breathing to be better before I can have it done ! With all this said I’m keeping my head up and retaining a positive mental attitude I will get through this and really hope this posts helps someone who need some reassurance !

  24. Im 34 years old and been a smoker for 14 years, i cant believe how days turned into weeks and months and years with me thinking ill quit on Monday! I quit 8 days back and feeling less scared now in general. Yoga has helped me a lot to fight cravings and many other symptoms. Im still foggy every now and then but ive decided never to smoke again!

  25. Day 5, chest tightness is the worst so far. I king of manage the cravings, but i am down this road without being convinced i am quitting for good. I wish i was convinced as most of you are. I want to stop, but i am kinda afraid of the symptoms and not sure if i can avoid a relapse when hanging out with smoker friends, etc. When i will feel better? I hope after two weeks???

  26. It’s been a little over two months for me. I get the odd pang that is usually easy to dismiss. Every once in a while I get one that won’t go so easily. Those stronger cravings tend to coincide with extraordinarily stressful moments. In those moments I try to remember the filthy stench that followed me everywhere, my inability to horseplay with my three year old boy because of my pathetic lung capacity and high blood pressure, and the stress of planning my entire day around the precious moments when I could suffocate myself with toxic fumes. And if that’s not enough, I visit this page and look at the Stage One side effects. Thanks for reminding me how difficult those first few days were, and what a great victory every ex-smoker has achieved!

  27. thirdtimesacharm says:

    It is really comforting to have found this site. I smoked my last cigarette 09/21/14. good luck to all ! Turned 42 09/27/14 n have smoked since age 11 with 2 solid attempts to quit. phew! Here we go !!!!

  28. Had my last cigarette in mid-September 2013 after using the patch and an electronic cigarette. After my last smoke, I used the electronic cigarette off and on till mid-January 2014 when I finally became nicotine free. I am so happy and proud I finally kicked the habit but it has been the toughest thing I have ever done. I enjoyed smoking for over 35 years and I still get those urges to light one up but my will power still manages to overcome the desire. I wish everyone who wants to stop smoking the best of luck. It’s very hard but I have found it very rewarding especially in regards to my health. Trust me, you will notice a difference in the months following that last smoke. It’s so scary to give up something you enjoy and/or depend on but if I can stop smoking, anyone can stop smoking.

  29. Best of luck…

  30. Keep up the good work and remember – one moment at a time!

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