Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

What Sort of Withdrawal Symptoms Will I Have?

Most smokers have 2 types of addiction: the physical and the psychological. When trying to break your physical addiction to nicotine, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Fortunately, they are only temporary. They are usually the most prevalent during the first 2 weeks and are pretty much gone within a month. And although withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, they are minor when compared to what tobacco does to your body.

From the moment of your last cigarette, all the nicotine in your body leaves your body within 4 to 7 days, even if you have been a smoker for years. Actually, physical withdrawal symptoms are good -- they let you know that your body is repairing itself. (For example, if you get tingling or numbness in your arms and legs, it's because your circulation is getting better.)


Withdrawal Symptoms

How to Help Relieve Symptoms

Dry mouth, sore throat Chew gum or drink water or orange juice. Use throat sprays and cough drops only if necessary.
Headache Do deep breathing and other relaxation techniques; nap; take a bath or hot shower. Take headache medicine only if needed, and take it with food.
Difficulty sleeping Avoid caffeine in the evening; do relaxation techniques; stay more active during your waking hours by getting physical activity; do deep breathing; read a relaxing book to help you fall asleep.


Drink water; eat high-fiber foods.
Feeling tired during the day

Do deep breathing; take a nap; try to get more sleep at night.
Hunger Drink water; eat low-calorie snacks; eat smaller but more frequent meals during the day.
Cravings Practice the 4 D's (Deep breaths, Drink water, Do something else, Delay).
Tension, anxiety, irritability Do relaxation exercises; drink water and fruit juices; do something you enjoy; ask the people around you to be patient for the time being.
Numbness/tingling in arms and legs Get up and move around.
Difficulty concentrating

Take a quick walk; do deep breathing; avoid alcohol.
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy Do deep breathing; get regular physical activity.
Coughing Drink hot herbal teas; use cough drops; suck on sugarless hard candy. Be patient as your lungs work overtime to clean themselves out. The cough may get worse before it gets better. If the coughing persists, talk to your doctor.

(Sources: ACS, 2003; ALA, 2003; NCI, 2004)