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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Comments

  1. John Banton says:

    10th day cigarette free after 34 years of direct and passive smoking and feel better already. Done it cold turkey :-). I was in the supermarket yesterday, and the gentleman who joined the queue after me had just extinguished a cigarette. Did I smell like that I wonder??? It was pretty bad!!

    • Hi I started smoking when I was 13 behind the back of the bike shed at school. I was smoking 20 a day and I’m 50 now and stopped smoking 6 weeks ago yesterday. I do vape, I’m on 0.6ml nicotine, cutting the amount down steadily since I started. I have never once wanted a cigarette because I always remind myself of how smelly it is, dangerous, and downright expensive !!!!!! There is more o life than doing this and I’m dammed if I ever decide to light another cig up ever again. Good luck to everyone x

    • Please go to http://www.whyquit.com. I am a 28 year smoker and am 7 months smoke free..cold turkey. I could not have done it without Joel and the articles on his web site which are all free. Never thought I would make it. I still have a quick crave once in a while…but there are days that go by that I think…”wow, I have not craved a smoke for week” Just remember Never Take another puff….they come in packs. You can do it!!!

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