What Happens when you Stop Smoking?

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

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.

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. 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 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?

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.

Will I put on weight after I quit smoking?

It’s true that many people put on some weight when they stop smoking.

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.

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.

How much could you save by quitting?

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

Find out how much you could save by using our Calculator - 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.

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, 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.

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