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Author Topic: Physical withdrawal symptoms timeline  (Read 3041 times)


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Physical withdrawal symptoms timeline
« on: April 30, 2016, 10:00:59 am »

Week One

Many of the symptoms that manifest in week one continue throughout the entire withdrawal process, and can even linger after withdrawal is over. That is the nature of addiction. However, the first week is generally the hardest for smokers to make it through, as the body is normalizing after constant nicotine exposure.

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can actually begin as early as 30 minutes after smoking a cigarette. Depending on how long a person has been smoking, and on how heavily they smoke, the effects of nicotine on the brain generally wears off anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. It has a very short life span once introduced to the brain, and therefore must be delivered in very regular doses in order to maintain the ‘buzz’ that the brain is used to functioning on.

Most of these symptoms peak approximately 3-5 days after quitting, and then begin to Fade away.

The earliest symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are usually cravings for a cigarette, followed by anxiety, anger, irritation, and a decrease in mental function causing attention problems and difficulty in completing some tasks. These symptoms can begin 30 minutes after smoking, and continue to rise in intensity as time goes on. That is because by around day 3, the body has cleared itself of all of the nicotine from the last cigarette.

Physical symptoms throughout the first week include headache, increased appetite, dizziness, constipation, stomach pain, fatigue, and insomnia. In addition, many smokers begin to develop a tightness in the chest, begin to cough, or notice an increase in mucus. This is because the respiratory system has begun to heal, and is in the process of removing the irritants that it was previously unable to do.

Other Common Withdrawal Side Effects
•Sore throat
•Lowered heart rate
•Tingling in hands and feet
•Sweating/Having chills

Weeks 2-4

The first week usually brings the majority of withdrawal symptoms. Moving into the following weeks, they gradually begin to fade away.

Insomnia usually clears within one to two weeks. Since nicotine is a stimulant, the body has learned to function with increased levels of chemicals like acetylcholine and vasopressin in the brain, which work to improve memory and enhance cognitive function.

Hunger or appetite increases can begin within the first 24 hours of withdrawal. The uptake of serotonin and dopamine act as an appetite suppressant, and when nicotine levels lower, appetite increases. In addition, withdrawal often causes cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, and many smokers eat simply to replace the act of smoking. This can last of awhile and vary so much I can't really put a time fame on this.

Fatigue energy levels may be low for 2-4 weeks.

Mental fatigue/feeling foggy can last for 2-4 weeks.

Heartburn, nausea and stomach pain generally clear up around 2 weeks, constipation may last for up to 4 weeks.

Cough/Mucus may persist past 4 weeks, although they often begin to get better in about 2-3 weeks.

Throughout the entire withdrawal process, from day one on, the biggest challenge will be the nicotine cravings and the stress that is associated with them. These cravings cause extreme anxiety and agitation. A hallmark of quitting cigarettes is the bad mood and frustration that a you will properly  experience. This desire for another cigarette can seem nearly constant throughout the first week. Over the next few weeks, however, cravings begin to become less frequent and they do not last as long as before.

As these cravings begin to go away, the associated mood disturbances also fade. Without constantly battling the desire to smoke again, stress levels go down. Edginess and shortness of temper can ease after week one, and then gradually smooth out over the next month, although some occasional outbursts may persist.

Restlessness and boredom are often the last side effects to cease. Smoking cigarettes fills time and has become a habit that is very hard to break. Without smoking, there is time during the day that needs to be occupied, and it is difficult to find ways to divert attention or to find new ways to spend that time. This sense of restlessness does gradually improve, but is still something many quitters feel even past the 4 week mark.

Once you get through the first month, the road ahead becomes much rosier. If you are at this point than give yourself a huge pat on the back! You've made it through the intense cravings, the emotional roller coaster, and the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Getting through one month without a cigarette is a big accomplishment and you should reward yourself.

Mental cravings will still pop up from time to time, especially in the first year, but they won't be anything near the level of the first month.  Beware of situations where you will be around a lot of tobacco smoke or around folks that you used to smoke with. Constantly remind yourself that things like taking a smoke break with the smokers or having a cigarette on the first day of spring are not worth going through the trouble of quitting again.

This post is purely to use as a guide and not gospel. As everyone is different. These are the general time fames for physical withdrawals. Mental and emotional issue will take longer to deal with.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 07:38:28 am by TG »
   Quit Date 04/04/2014
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