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Smoking Cessation Message Board

Smoking Cessation Board Index

Getting ready: Understanding nicotine withdrawal and your body

You're getting closer and closer to quit day. You have just a little more than a week to go. It is important for you to understand the effects of nicotine withdrawal you may be facing. They're not easy. They make many people give up. We're confident you won't be one of them, though, because you've made an important promise to yourself. But just in case you find yourself struggling in the next few days, take a few minutes now to learn more about what your body goes through during withdrawal and how to respond.

Feeling nervous, irritable, depressed
Cause: The nervous system is affected by the lack of nicotine. Nicotine patches or gum may help with this. For many people, quitting is also felt as a loss similar to grieving. Examine your emotions and where they are coming from. Then talk to a friend about them or write them down in a journal so that you can work through them. It is normal to feel a little down and even slightly depressed when you quit smoking. If your depression is serious and lasts for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor about using Buproprion to help you quit, or some other medication to ease your depression.

Feeling hungry
Cause: Your appetite increases because food tastes better. Your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories) goes back to normal after having been boosted by cigarettes for years. If you don't want to gain weight, keep lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand to snack on. If you find that tasting food again makes you want to cook fancy, high-calorie meals, just be sure to keep the portions small. Try very hard not to replace one emotional crutch (smoking) with another (eating). (More information on controlling your weight will be sent to you soon.)

Cause: Bowel movement also goes back to normal after having been helped along by cigarettes for a long time. A diet high in fruits and veggies and whole grains will help. If that just doesn't do the trick for you, talk to your pharmacist about other ways to relieve constipation.

Cause: The body rids itself of poisons by sweating.

Cause: The lungs produce more mucus to clean themselves. Coughing is just a sign that your body is beginning to heal. Keep reminding yourself that your body needs to get rid of all of the tar in your lungs. It has to come out somehow!

Dry throat
Cause: Your body produces new mucous membranes once you quit smoking. Make sure you have sugarless gum or hard candies with you all of the time. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.

Headache, dizziness
Cause: The body rids itself of carbon monoxide (the main chemical in car exhaust fumes, which is also found in cigarette smoke). More oxygen gets to your brain, making you feel dizzy. If you experience dizziness, sit down for a few minutes until it passes. Again, drinking lots of water should help ease your discomfort. If these symptoms persist, check with your doctor.

Cause: Blood goes back to blood vessels that were shrunk by nicotine. You may have weird itchy patches or generally feel itchy all over. Buy yourself a back-scratcher and go with the flow, so to speak! If that doesn't help, a cool ice pack (those nice soft gel packs that you can keep in the fridge or freezer) or a cold, wet facecloth will also help take the itch away.

Remember, withdrawal symptoms are just signs of healing. Try to put a positive spin on them. They are your body's way of telling you how much was wrong as a result of smoking. Keep up the fight to make it right!

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