What Happens when you Stop Smoking? | NICORETTE® (2023)

Taken the decision to try to stop smoking? Good for you! Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and it’s never too late to quit.

There are lots of potential health benefits that come with quitting – and they could start almost as soon as you stop smoking. Withdrawal symptoms could make it challenging at times to stay smoke free and to not relapse, but these should pass. Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (NRT) can also help ease cravings along the way.

You’re probably wondering what’s in store when you wave goodbye to cigarettes for good. Here are some of the things you could experience on your way to a smoke-free future.

Smoking withdrawal symptoms

What Happens when you Stop Smoking? | NICORETTE® (1)

Although not everyone experiences them, it’s normal to feel some withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking.

Withdrawal symptoms are the effects on the body and mind when they no longer get regular hits of nicotine. The main withdrawal symptoms could include nicotine cravings, an increased appetite, restlessness, irritability, difficulty sleeping and light-headedness.

(Video) What Happens When You Stop Smoking?

The first few days after quitting tend to be the most challenging, but you should find things start to get a bit easier after the third or fourth day.

There are two types of craving that you may experience. The first is a constant, underlying craving for a cigarette, while the second is a sudden urge to smoke that’s often triggered by an activity or feeling you associate with smoking.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works by giving your body some of the nicotine it used to get from cigarettes but without the other harmful chemicals such as tar, lead, cyanide and ammonia. This can help reduce cravings and keep you on track during your quitting journey.

Nicorette NRT products include Nicorette Invisi patch, Nicorette gum, Nicorette lozenges, Nicorette inhalator, Nicorette QuickMist mouthspray, Nicorette microtab and Nicorette nasal spray. Some products, like patches, give you a slow and steady release of nicotine into your system, which means they could help with background cravings. Others, such as the nasal spray and mouth spray, release nicotine quickly which could help with sudden, more intense cravings.

Putting together a quit plan could also help you with any challenges you encounter along the way by helping you visualise your success, keep focused and stay motivated.

I quit smoking – why do I feel worse?

As we say, it’s normal to feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. Tobacco smoke is the fastest way for nicotine to enter the bloodstream, which can make the nicotine addictive. And while things like NRT could help reduce cravings caused by nicotine withdrawal, they may not get rid of them completely.

These withdrawal symptoms can include things like restlessness, irritability and disturbed sleep – so it’s natural if you’re not feeling your best soon after quitting. It’s also important to be aware that although the urge to smoke should reduce over time, it can still be strong several months after your last cigarette.

The good news is that there are plenty of potential health benefits of stopping smoking that could soon be coming your way. And remember, every time you resist a craving you’re another step closer to quitting for good.

What happens to your body when you stop smoking?

As you probably know, there are lots of health risks when it comes to smoking – in fact, smoking related diseases are one of the biggest causes of illness and death in the UK.

(Video) What happens to your body when you stop smoking?

Smoking is the cause of around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer and it’s linked to a higher risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions.

When you stop smoking you could see a number of health benefits – and they could start almost straight away.

Some of these could include:

  • After 20 minutes your pulse could be starting to get back to normal
  • After 48 hours all the harmful carbon monoxide in your system could be flushed out
  • After 3 to 9 months your lung function could increase by up to 10%, helping you breathe easier
  • After 1 year smoke-free, risk of a heart attack could have halved compared to a smoker’s

It’s not just your own health that could benefit from quitting. Loved ones who are breathing in secondhand smoke – also known as passive smoking – have an increased risk of getting the same diseases as smokers.

Children are more likely to have breathing problems and asthma if they live in a smoky environment. And with each cigarette containing over 4,000 chemicals, smoking while you’re pregnant could also harm your baby.

All of this means giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do both for your own health and the health of those who are special to you.

What Happens when you Stop Smoking? | NICORETTE® (2)

Will I put on weight after I quit smoking?

It’s true that many people put on some weight when they stop smoking – but not everyone does. In the year after stopping smoking, people gain 5kg on average.

There are a few reasons for this. For instance, smoking may speed up your metabolism, which means your body burns through calories faster and it can also suppress your appetite. When you quit you might also be tempted to replace the hand-to-mouth motion of smoking with extra snacking.

(Video) This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Smoking Tobacco

But don’t let any of this put you off quitting – there are lots of things you can try to help avoid putting on weight. Getting regular exercise, eating smaller portions and keeping a stash of healthy snacks close by could help keep any weight gain to a minimum.

Mental health benefits of quitting

Along with the physical health benefits, quitting smoking could also improve your mental health – such as reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

You may think that smoking helps reduce your stress levels. This is because smoking causes the release of a feelgood chemical called dopamine. It means that when you don’t have a cigarette for a while, nicotine levels drop which can trigger withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety.

Having another cigarette then gives you temporary relief from these feelings – making it seem as if it’s helping when in fact it’s just starting the nicotine withdrawal cycle again. So instead of helping you to relax, smoking could actually be making you anxious.

What Happens when you Stop Smoking? | NICORETTE® (3)

How much could you save by quitting?

Ready for more good news? Giving up smoking could also be healthy for your pocket.

The UK government puts high duty rates on cigarettes as part of its ongoing campaign to reduce levels of smoking, and the average cost of a pack of cigarettes tends to go up every year.

Find out how much you could save – and start thinking about what you might use these savings for.

What to do if you have a relapse

We know it can be difficult to quit – and it could take you a few attempts to give up for good. If you do have a cigarette, try to use it as a chance to learn more about yourself so you can increase your chances next time round.

(Video) What happens to your Body if you Quit Smoking!

Relapses are more likely to happen in the first few weeks after you quit. If you do have a slip-up, it’s worth taking the time to think about why you had a cigarette. It’s often due to cravings, so consider what triggered the urge to smoke. It could have been because you felt stressed or saw someone else smoking.

Learning from your mistakes could mean you’re better prepared next time you’re in a similar position. Most of all,try to stay positive and keep believing you can reach your goal.

Start your journey to a smoke-free future today with Nicorette

Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products from Nicorette can increase your chances of quitting smoking for good compared to willpower alone.

When you stop smoking your body misses the nicotine, which could mean you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and get cravings for a cigarette.

NRT works by delivering lower amounts of nicotine to help relieve these symptoms and help stop the craving to smoke, without giving you the buzz you get from smoking a cigarette. Treatment with NRT usually lasts between eight and 12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the amount of NRT you use each day to eventually stop altogether.

The benefits of using NRT products such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalators, mouth sprays, microtabs and nasal sprays far outweigh any potential risks. This is because it’s the toxins in cigarettes – including things like tar, cyanide, lead and ammonia – that cause smoking-related diseases, not the nicotine itself.

Evidence has shown you’re more likely to stop smoking if you use a combination of a patch plus one other NRT product, rather than just one. With Nicorette Quit+ you can combine Nicorette InvisiPatch – which provides a slow release of nicotine – with a faster acting form of NRT such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray to help with any sudden cravings.

Your three-month subscription includes email support to guide you along your quit journey. You can also upgrade to receive three months of personalised coaching from a stop smoking advisor.

Start your journey to a smoke-free future today with Nicorette.

(Video) Stopping smoking linked to improved mental health

What Happens when you Stop Smoking? | NICORETTE® (4)

FAQs

What happens when you completely stop smoking? ›

Common symptoms include: cravings, restlessness, trouble concentrating or sleeping, irritability, anxiety, increases in appetite and weight gain. Many people find withdrawal symptoms disappear completely after two to four weeks.

What are three things that happen to your body when you stop smoking? ›

What happens when you quit smoking?
  • Your blood pressure goes down. The nicotine in cigarettes can increase your blood pressure, raising your risk of heart attack or stroke. ...
  • Your oxygen levels rise. ...
  • Your risk of developing cancer decreases. ...
  • Your skin, hair and nails look better. ...
  • Your sense of taste and smell improves.
Jan 10, 2022

What can I replace cigarettes with? ›

The options include:
  • Prescription nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler.
  • Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges you can buy without a prescription.
  • Prescription non-nicotine stop-smoking drugs such as bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, others) and varenicline.

How long does it take to feel better after you quit smoking? ›

from 3 to months

Your lung function increases by up to 10% making breathing easier.

What happens to your brain when you quit smoking? ›

As a result, you might get anxious or upset. You might have a hard time concentrating or sleeping, have strong urges to smoke, or just feel generally uncomfortable. These feelings are called withdrawal. This gets better a few weeks after quitting as your brain gets used to not having nicotine around.

Does your body repair itself when you quit smoking? ›

1 to 9 Months

One to nine months after quitting, the lungs will begin to repair themselves. Even the smallest of functions within the lungs will begin to work properly and shortness of breath and coughing will decrease even further.

What should I eat when I crave a cigarette? ›

Certain foods and drinks can be a potential benefit—or burden—when trying to quit smoking.
...
4 foods and drinks that could help smokers quit
  • 1. Fruits and vegetables. ...
  • Ginseng Tea. ...
  • Milk and dairy. ...
  • Sugar-free gum and mints.

What is the best product to stop smoking? ›

Chantix (Varenicline): Chantix (Varenicline) is a prescription medication taken as a pill, twice a day. It's the most effective single product to help you quit smoking. And it doesn't contain nicotine. It cuts cravings by acting like nicotine on the brain.

What is the best drug to quit smoking? ›

There are two quit-smoking medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that are pills: bupropion and varenicline. Bupropion has many effects on the brain, including helping people quit smoking. It decreases craving and other nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Why do I feel so good after quitting smoking? ›

We all know that quitting smoking improves physical health. But it's also proven to boost your mental health and wellbeing: it can improve mood and help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

What stages do you go through when you quit smoking? ›

5 Stages to Quitting
  • Pre-contemplation (not thinking about quitting) ...
  • Contemplation (thinking about quitting but not ready to quit) ...
  • Preparation (getting ready to quit) ...
  • Action (quitting) ...
  • Maintenance (remaining a non-smoker)
Feb 16, 2009

How do you feel when you stop smoking? ›

Over time, withdrawal symptoms will fade as long as you stay smokefree.
  1. Having urges or cravings to smoke. ...
  2. Feeling irritated, grouchy, or upset. ...
  3. Feeling jumpy and restless. ...
  4. Having a hard time concentrating. ...
  5. Having trouble sleeping. ...
  6. Feeling hungrier or gaining weight. ...
  7. Feeling anxious, sad, or depressed.

Does your brain go back to normal after smoking? ›

The good news is that once you stop smoking entirely, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain will eventually return to normal. As that happens, the craving response will occur less often, won't last as long or be as intense and, in time, will fade away completely.

How long does it take for brain chemistry to return to normal after quitting smoking? ›

It can take up to 1-3 months for your brain chemistry to fully re-balance after quitting nicotine. The most severe withdrawal symptoms occur 1-3 days after stopping nicotine use.

Which benefits are first noticed once a tobacco user quits? ›

Some health benefits begin almost immediately. Every week, month, and year without tobacco further improves your health. Within 20 minutes of quitting: Your blood pressure and heart rate drop to normal. Within 12 hours of quitting: Your blood carbon monoxide level drops to normal.

How long does nicotine stay in your system? ›

Generally, nicotine will leaves your blood within 1 to 3 days after you stop using tobacco, and cotinine will be gone after 1 to 10 days. Neither nicotine nor cotinine will be detectable in your urine after 3 to 4 days of stopping tobacco products.

Can lungs recover from smoking? ›

Your lungs are self-cleaning, which means they will gradually heal and regenerate on their own after you quit smoking. However, there are certain lifestyle behaviors you can practice to try and accelerate the rate at which your lungs heal.

What happens to your lungs after you quit smoking? ›

Within the first month after you quit smoking, your lung function will improve, and this will increase circulation, too. Within nine months, the cilia begin to function normally and symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath become less frequent.

What happens 5 years after quitting smoking? ›

5 Years After You Quit Smoking

5 years after you've quit smoking, your risk for stroke is reduced. Likewise, you risk of developing the following cancers has reduced: Cervical, mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder.

How long does it take for nicotine to leave your system? ›

People also process nicotine differently depending on their genetics. Generally, nicotine will leaves your blood within 1 to 3 days after you stop using tobacco, and cotinine will be gone after 1 to 10 days. Neither nicotine nor cotinine will be detectable in your urine after 3 to 4 days of stopping tobacco products.

How long does it take to clear your lungs after quitting smoking? ›

1 to 12 months after quitting

Tiny hair-like structures (called cilia) that move mucus out of the lungs start to regain normal function, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

How can I reverse my smoking damage? ›

While there's no way to reverse scarring or lung damage that years of smoking can cause, there are things you can do to prevent further damage and improve your lung health.
...
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
  1. blueberries.
  2. cherries.
  3. spinach.
  4. kale.
  5. olives.
  6. almonds.
May 26, 2020

Is it too late to stop smoking at 50? ›

It's never too late to get benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time and reduce your risk of death.

Can a doctor tell if I smoke? ›

Medical tests can detect nicotine in people's urine, blood, saliva, hair, and nails. Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco, cigarettes, and vapes or e-cigarettes. When someone smokes a cigarette, their body absorbs up to 90 percent of the nicotine.

How do you flush nicotine out fast? ›

There are several things you can do to speed up this process:
  1. Drink water. When you drink more water, more nicotine is released from your body through urine.
  2. Exercise. This increases your body's metabolism rate, which may lead you to clear nicotine faster. ...
  3. Eat foods rich in antioxidants.

What are nicotine withdrawals like? ›

Nicotine withdrawal is the physical and psychological symptoms you feel as nicotine leaves your body. Symptoms include the urge for nicotine, irritation, frustration, trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating. Treatment includes nicotine replacement therapy, other medications, non-drug remedies and coping strategies.

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