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…

Read More…

 

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…

Read More …

 

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…

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

Side Effect – Moderate to Severe Irritability and Mood Swings.

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

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

Side Effect – Mild to Moderate Irritability and Mood Swings.

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

Read More…

 

Side Effect – Mild Constipation.

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

Read More…

 

Side Effect – Mild Flu and Cold Like Symptoms.

These symptoms will become a lot less frequent.

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…

 

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.

Read More…


 

Comments

  1. This is the fifth or sixth time I am ready to quit smoking and this time I am very Confident that I will be able to do this seemingly easy task. Last time I tried to quit I quit for almost a week unless I started again. I am a university student and this might be the biggest of all problems. I had made many smoker friends and when they ask its really hard to say no.

    This time however I will quit no matter what. May God help me in this task…
    I quit now!!! and forever!!!
    Inshallah!!!

  2. I’m on day 7 so far so good I’m using an e CIG and just like the patch your decrease your nicotine.My husband and I have a family goal so every time I think I want a smoke our goal pops in my head!

  3. Sophie Cook says:

    After almost 55 years of smoking 40 a day (I know! How bad is that! ) I have been smoke free since the first week of December- I feel so proud of myself. I am coming up 70 years of age, and never thought I could achieve one day yet alone two months! Smoke free. I could screem some days for just one cigarette, but knowing the craving lasts just a minute or two helps me a great deal, then the feeling of accomplishment is well worth the effort. People, if an old grumpy lady can quit, so can you. I take it a day at a time. I wish with all my heart that I had more courage to do this in my youth.. My only hope is that it lasts and I can make it out the other side so that I can enjoy the rest of my days smoke free.

  4. Mohamed Anas says:

    Hello everyone
    i’m Mohamed and i’m an addict LOL

    i stopped smoking for two weeks now …usually i smoke about 30 per day ..after one of my family was diagnosed with cancer i decided to stop ..im using an antidepressant ( Citalopram ) since the diagnosis ..it seem to be helping relief the craving ..it’s very mild ..the habit is what concerns me ..chocolate, gum, juice and walking can be a great help …my mind is more active ..my eye sight is better ..love the feeling of fresh air flowing into my lungs ..just little chest burns and constipation but i’m glad to read that it’s just a side effect but im going to consult my doctor just to feel good …keep fighting …if it’s not going to make you live longer …your mind will learn the right way to live..and your body is going to tell you that it feels right
    good luck to all :)

  5. Hi everyone

    This is my 6th day smoke free, and today has been the hardest so far. Don’t know why.

    Good luck to us all, and keep all of us smoke free n healthy (and rich) lol

    Lesley

  6. Whew! Yo I swear, I LOVED CIGARETTES!! My GF dared me to stop on NEW YEARS EVE, and guess what??? I DID!! I didn’t realize I had a permanent sore throat until I quit… I didn’t realize how bad my car, and bedroom smelled until I quit… I didn’t realize how I couldn’t Eat, Poop, Drink, Wake up, Have a convo with buddies, or even have sex without depending on those little jokers, until I quit.. Didn’t realize how bad my breath smelled, and how my teeth were starting to stain until I quit. I’m telling you, it feels good to breath again and actually save money lol.. On top of me being a musician, all my friends still smoke. I encourage them all to smoke around me just to challenge myself. and Im done! I’m sure it isn’t this easy for everybody, but who wants depend on something Man-Made to get them through life??? Not I! don’t go back people.. that poison takes over, and YOU become a prisoner in YOUR own body. Oh, and i can’t forget to mention the fact that they KILL YOU.. annd THEY TELL YOU THAT!! I really hope these words find the right person and help them!
    Cheers! -Kmar

    • hello my names carline and I’m on my 6th day of quitting smoking and in a weird way your post gave me more motivation to keep it up. Thought i’d share and hope that helps you continue your journey. Like you I’m doing it cold turkey. I have a three year old son and I’m doing it for him. I want to see him Graduate, i want to meet his kids so I’m saving myself from myself. Keep being awesome and that up beat attitude and thanks again for the pep talk!!

  7. Hey all,

    Glad to see other quitters :) This is definitely one thing worth quitting on. I’m 7 days in the bag, cold turkey. And, while I’ve quit for much longer in the past, I think this is the most solid effort (…actually, I don’t want to say effort, because this time is permanent). I read Alan Carr’s “Easy Way to Quit Smoking” and it breaks down the psychology/physiology of smoking. Great book and works well for someone analytically minded like myself.

    Good luck all! Keep pressing forward and remember: you’re not giving up anything.

    • I used the Alan Carr book as well and am currently on day 21. I’ve tried the patches, gum and pills but never lasted more than a few days, love the book.

  8. 2mos smoke free, used hypnosis… Only works if you really want it to, but for me it was a way to quite cold turkey. Whitenend my teeth that was nice, started working out again and noticed my endurance really improved and my resting heart rate when down a lot. I use to have high blood pressure not anymore… It has been a 25 year habit and really has positively changed my life to quite…

  9. I recently quit too, about 6 weeks now and I’m so happy and proud :) I hated the trap of being addicted to nicotine, and the smell of it, and the cost too! I smoked for 34 years with a few breaks now and then but I am determined not to smoke again and I’ve done well so far. The cravings are few and far between now. I found this site because I was looking up about chest congestion and when it will clear up. But it’s all well worth it. All these comments are encouraging too. GL everyone!!

  10. Kimberly says:

    I just started quit, I am on my first week. I didn’t realize how bad it really was until I decided to go for a run since the weather was starting to be nice. I was an avid racer and I could hardly run 2 miles. After the run was the worst, I coughed, and coughed, and coughed some more. It was so painful, I said enough. I am having some chest pain and anxiety but I guess that is to be expected. I hope everyone sticks with this. I lost both grandparents to lung cancer (which you would think would be enough for me to not start….smh) and my uncle as well. I don’t want to leave my family behind at a young age and that is what keeps me going.

  11. Bibin John says:

    Hi,
    This is my forth week…….

  12. I have quit cold turkey in last week of November 2014. Successfully been able to come till this day. I felt stomach issues, throat pain etc which were manageable. But still even post 100 days I am feeling problems in throat like mild pain, feeling of something at the back of throat, acidity etc. Please suggest is it normal or reasons of worry?

    As per my smoking History, I was smoked for 16 years around 10-12 cigarettes a day.

  13. Day 18 for me; been wanting to quit (and did before for small periods of time) for years now. 18 years a smoker, 30 cigs a day. This time, I quit cold turkey when I got hit with the flu. I lost the desire/ability to smoke through fever and coughing fits and decided, when I got better a week later, to just not smoke again. I was “lucky” to save myself the hard first-week cravings since I was sick, now it’s a matter of staving off the habitual / psychological cravings (I used to enjoy smoking quite a lot). Big rewards that keep me going: no more heart palpitations, better sleep and a LOT more money (you realize how much this actually costs when you don’t buy them anymore!) But the biggest reward is my eight year old son who told me he was worried when I smoked because he didn’t want to lose me early.

    I encourage anyone and everyone who is thinking of stopping; it’s worth it ! Yes you can be “lucky” and live a long life smoking without getting any diseases, but it’s a game of Russian Roulette you can live better without playing :) better health, better breath, better energy, you can do it !

    Sophie

  14. 1st day and very hard no cigs

    • Star Crow says:

      Hi Jodi,

      You can do this!! The Patch help me quiet!! Every Time I wanted a cigarette I would think of a tombstone with my name on it.
      Good Luck, You got this!!

    • It’s day 4…for myself…if i can do i, i know you can…i smoked for 20+ years…

  15. Okay. Long update in bound,first off officially 8 weeks cold turkey quit cigarettes, (no pen no patch no gum)also 8 weeks free from marijuana and caffeine, all after a 17 year addiction (pack a day) eighth A week and 20 oz of red bull and coffee daily, I was always active in sports,I cycle 25 miles daily. Since quitting I have not felt better at all,seemingly going thru an 8 week flu,angry,sad,chest pains,headaches you name it I have been going thru it.few days of “normality” come and go.i know in the long run I will get better.thou it seems so bleak I know victory will come soon,so on to anyone going through the same type symptoms as me let’s just hang in there and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing. Btw 31yo male,135lbs.hope this helped someone out there. Glory to god,praise jesus don’t give up! I will continue to update. P.s thanks so much to this site,yall have been such a great support! Till next time :)

  16. I’m on my 7th day of quitting and I feel like my heart is pounding ,anyone else have this feeling ?

  17. I quit those expensive “coffin nails” on Feb. 6th. I used “Smoke Away”, which is a natural thing. Lots of pill popping for a few days. It works though. It did make me very constipated! Messed with my digestive system. So, if anyone is going to do the Smoke Away, I would suggest taking a stool softener along with it.
    I have quit many times, but was always surrounded by cigarette smoke. My husband dies in Dec. and so I had made myself and God a promise that I would quit after he passed.
    I thank God every morning for the awesome way I feel, for not having anything like cigarettes weigh me down, for not stinking all the time, for having my car not smell, for having more $$ in my pocket. Lots of benefits !!!

  18. Kalyan Majumder says:

    I already crossed 4 Months smoke free.Yet i cannot say i am free from all aftereffects.Actually i want to lead a completely free life (As before).I just want to know how long it will take to lead a completely free life.
    Regards
    K. Majumder

  19. Rob Latchford says:

    I’m 39 years old and had been smoking for 23 years until on sunday the 22nd march at 22:00 I decided enough was enough. I had been contemplating giving up for a week or 2 previous to this.

    I have had several half hearted attempts at quitting before but I’ve always gone back to putting those nails in my coffin. For me personally I feel that you have got to want to quit. If a person really wants to quit then they have more chance of success.

    Well I’m a week in and it’s not been as bad as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong its been tough but I thought it was going to be harder after the failed previous attempts. Yes I have the runny nose and the cough but I can deel with that as my body is repairing itself.

  20. Sohail rajput says:

    I smoked for 32 years and on 01 Jan 2015..suddenly I quit smoking …and Alhamdolillah until today I don’t feel like smoking again….just my will power I decided and quit and stuck to the promise I made to my self not to smoke again. …

    • Sohail rajput says:

      In fact I made a mistake on the date mentioned in my post it was 01 Jan 2014 when I quit smoking…

  21. Today makes 21 days without a smoke. I purchased Alan Carr’s book the easy way to quit smoking in November but didn’t read it until March 16th and haven’t had one since.
    After a pack a day for 27 years, the difference in how I feel is amazing. I had blamed getting older on how miserable I felt, but it’s clear now that I was poisoning myself with Marlboro’s. The nicotine addict in me is still trying to find an excuse to smoke and I hope I can continue to resist.
    Good luck to all of you!

  22. i quit smoking on Jan 2015. Now i am feeling something in my throat & chest. I cant explain what i am feeling. There is no pain but something irritating. Plz advice me.

  23. James Finnesey says:

    Just about week 6 for me. Started feeling a little better YESTERDAY. A little better today.
    Terrible experience…..fatigue, nausea, dry heaves, coughing up ack, depressed, impatient, thin skinned, testy.
    Very bad experience. From looking at info on websites I seem to have gone through the WORST quit smoking experience EVER. There were days when I could do nothing but lie down and moan with retching breaks.
    Any similar bad experiences?

    • Crazy this time says:

      James,
      I’m about three days behind you…..SAME THING! Day 31 was the worst physical withdrawal day I’ve had since day one. No progress in five weeks!!!!! It’s supposed to get easier. Just hanging on by the skin of my teeth at this point. The good side? I am still focused on the physical withdrawal discomfort stage and haven’t even approached the mental game stage yet……..

      • Hey guys, hang in there just a little longer. Its got to start getting better. Remember if you give in, its all the way back to square one and you have to go through this horrible stage again. I remember how crappy I felt when quitting. No….I did not have it as bad as the two of you, but I do know that going back through the quitting process is not for me. If you have not tried it, an NRT might be what you need. Depends on you and how you feel but I will be completely honest…with out the patch I do not think I would have been able to quit. Good luck!

  24. I started smoking at 13 year old-now I m 33…………………………….13-03-2015………had….. my last cigarette……..

  25. I enjoyed smoking for the last 14 years. Only smoked 10/12 a day, kinda light when compared to everybody else, so I didn’t think it was a prob. Until I stoped breathing one night. lungs filled up with mucous, and I was wheezing so hard, both inhale and exhale, that I couldn’t sleep. The heart palpatations scared me, but when my heart actually stopped for two beats and I almost passed out, that was the “Ah Ha” moment. Quickly took an aspirin and propped up all night acknowkedging the fight for my life was tonight. It’s been 7 days, and when I need an inspiration not to light up again, I need only reflect back on that night, and the only urge I have is to live. Finally my lungs are clearing up and although I have a long way to go, I know I’ll never go back. I’ve never felt better.
    Good luck to all.

  26. Baba Ka Ntontoh says:

    I am on my 6th day today witout touching the cingerate and counting. I still crave and still got mood swings but m holding on fr my dear life, dnt want to smoke again… Never.

  27. You can read about my 6 heart attacks from my online magazine from the link to my website. I am now 7 days without a cig. im on a quit smoking nicotine patch. Regardless of what others say, quitting is not so easy when you have been smoking like me for the past 50 years, but im a point in my life where it is a matter of life or death, and i choose life.

    • Randy,
      Don’t listen to anyone but yourself. You know your body and your mindset better then anyone else does. Do what feels right for you. It absolutely drove me insane and spiked my temper to hear someone tell me, “oh, its not that bad, you can just quit. I bet you don’t even need the patch. I didn’t when I quit.” I swear each and time I heard that remark my temper would climb. I told one poor soul, “I am so happy you are super man and I am a poor weakling, but I don’t really care how you quit. All I truly care about is how I am going to quit and I am going to do that by my own way, not yours!”

      Other people may have the absolute will power to quit cold turkey or what ever. But they are not me, and they are not you. You find your own way, listen to yourself, do what feels right to you. People do not realize how hurtful mindless comments can be.

  28. Hey guy im tauseef ive quit smoking 5 months now feels good but i do get pains in my sides n my stomach feels loose inside n like everything in my stomach like jumping around .i would love to hear from other ppl who hav experienced this feelings.stay strong ppl thanks

  29. I quit February 4, 2015. I used the patches and followed the program according to how it felt for me. I knew with every “step down” I could expect a 3 day to 2 week “off key” period (from previous attempts and from trying to listen to myself). I have been grouchy, upset, eating everything. Some days are good, some were really bad, and now….every now and again the craving hits but it is nothing like it was in the beginning. So far, the want has not went away, but it is easier to say no. I am proud of my accomplishment and I never thought I would be able to quit smoking. As tough as it was, I have no intention of ever starting back. It would mean starting back over at day one of the quitting cycle…… Good luck everyone.

  30. Well, I decided 2 days ago that I didn’t want to smoke anymore. After about 15 years of smoking close to a pack a day, I quit, cold turkey (this is the 5th attempt). Surprisingly, I haven’t had any cravings. I do keep an e-cig handy, just in case I feel the urge to pick up a cigarette.
    Only problem I’m having is this tightness and burning sensation in my chest. It is very uncomfortable. Hopefully, this will pass and I hope I can keep up and be smoke-free this time, once and for all!

    Good luck to all of you out there who are trying to quit!

  31. 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 !!!!

  32. 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.

  33. Best of luck…

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