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Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal (Smoking)

Updated on April 22, 2010

Lots of people start using tobacco again after quitting because they feel they can't cope with the withdrawal symptoms. The first few days can be really tough.

Nicotine withdrawal

There are a number of different symptoms that you may experience, but there are also a number of ways to cope with these symptoms.


What causes it/how does it feel? You have an intense desire to smoke because your brain is missing the nicotine fix. You feel irritable, tense and unable to concentrate.
Coping strategies: Nicotine replacement therapies can help, but the cravings will lessen on their own over a few weeks. Other strategies you can try include having a glass of water or taking a few deep breaths to get you through the craving moment. If you are using NRT such as gum and lozenges make sure you have a supply of these everywhere you go - home, work, car etc.


What causes it/how does it feel? Food tastes better once you have stopped smoking so you may enjoy your food more. Also, nicotine affects your metabolism so you will be experiencing changes to your metabolism as well.
Coping strategies: Carry lots of water and chewing gum with you and keep healthy snacks, such as fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds with you to eat.

Coughing, dry mouth

What causes it/how does it feel? Your lungs are clearing out all the tar and debris from your years as a smoker.
Coping strategies: This is a sign that your lungs are recovering and should improve very quickly. Warm drinks may help ease your cough.

Sleeping problems

What causes it/how does it feel? Nicotine leaving your body can cause disturbances to your sleep.
Coping strategies: Make sure you are preparing as well as possible for bed: cut down on alcohol and caffeine, try to get some exercise during the day, and make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. These sleep problems should wear off in two or three weeks.


What causes it/how does it feel? This can happen when oxygen starts replacing the carbon monoxide in your brain.
Coping strategies: This will go away on its own after a few days. If you have an attack of dizziness, sit down and wait for it to pass.

Bowel changes

What causes it/how does it feel? You may suffer from constipation or diarrhea.
Coping strategies: This will settle down after a little while. In the mean time, drink plenty of water and, if you are constipated, try to get more fiber into your diet by eating more fruit and vegetables.

Mood swings, irritability and poor concentration

What causes it/how does it feel? These are signs that you miss smoking and are suffering nicotine withdrawal.
Coping strategies: Warn your friends and family that this may happen and ask them for support. Try to develop your own coping mechanisms for getting through the difficult patches, for example, by having a glass of water, a quick walk around the block, or trying a few deep breathing exercises.


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