The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that nicotine withdrawal, “is short-lived and symptoms pass in time, usually in less than a week.” Whyquit.com says that, “cold turkey quitters are fairly safe in blaming withdrawal for most effects felt during the first three days.”
But anyone who has quit smoking knows that the cravings for cigarettes, especially in times of stress, last much longer than just a few days. The truth is physical withdrawal symptoms do vary per new non-smoker, depending on the method of quitting, body metabolism and other factors. These symptoms may include lightheadedness, headache, restlessness, trouble sleeping, nervousness, anxiety, depression, increased appetite and strong cravings for cigarettes.
How long do nicotine withdrawal symptoms last? Let’s look at a timeline adapted from the Lung Association of Saskatchewan:
- 48 Hours
At the 48 hour mark the lightheadedness you may have experienced should begin to subside.
- 72 Hours
In just three days, your cravings for tobacco will be at its peak and will gradually lessen over the next weeks months or years, depending on many factors.
- 1 Week
You may have experienced difficulty sleeping during the first week, if so, it may begin to resolve at the one week mark.
- 2 Weeks
By 2 weeks, most of the foggy headed feeling may be gone and you may be better able to concentrate.
- 4 Weeks
The irritability, depression and restlessness associated with nicotine addiction should begin to subside by 4 weeks.
- 10 Weeks
At the 10 week mark, most people have experienced an increase in appetite due to the removal of the appetite suppressing effects of nicotine.
The NIH says, “Withdrawal is the most uncomfortable part of quitting, but the real challenge is beating long-term cravings and staying away from tobacco.” This can be done by developing a quit plan with your doctor that addresses the social, emotional and physical reasons you smoke.
Also talk to your doctor about the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing, whether or not they are listed here. Some symptoms, including those that mimic nicotine withdrawal symptoms, can be a sign of a serious condition that requires emergency medical attention.
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What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking?