Dealing with smoking withdrawal symptoms

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Tips to help you stay in control

From the moment you stop smoking, your body begins to recover, but you will experience a few symptoms as you adjust to smoke-free life.

Here are some of the things to look out for, along with some tips to help you cope with them.

Desire to smoke

To state the obvious, your body will be craving nicotine and you’ll probably have a strong urge to light up.

The good news is that this is worst for the first few days, then it tends to get much easier.

Distract yourself by taking deep, long breaths, calling or texting for support or going for a walk. Whatever it takes to occupy your mind until the craving passes.

Cough, dry mouth

When people stop smoking, their cough can sometimes get worse. This is because tar and mucus is being cleared from their lungs — which is obviously a good thing.

A warm, soothing drink can help to make your mouth and throat feel better.


Giving up smoking changes your metabolism and can make you feel more hungry.

Expert advice is to try to eat healthily and consume plenty of fruit and vegetables, drink lots of water and consider using chewing gum.

Trouble sleeping

Sleeping can be disturbed as nicotine leaves the body. This should only last a few weeks, but it could help to cut down on tea, coffee and other drinks with caffeine in.

Fresh air and exercise can also help you get better sleep.


Some people feel dizzy in the days and weeks after giving up smoking.

This should improve after two-to-fourweeks.

Constipation or diarrhoea

You might get minor digestive issues after quitting smoking. This just shows that the body is adjusting to life without nicotine.

You should eat healthily and drink lots of water.

Key sources and further reading

NHS Better Health: Quit smoking

Hughes JR. Effects of abstinence from tobacco: valid symptoms and time course. Nicotine Tob Res. 2007 Mar;9(3):315-27. doi: 10.1080/14622200701188919. PMID: 17365764.

16 March, 2023