UHA Worksite Wellness

Quitting Smoking Sucks – But At Least It Won’t Kill You

Written by Kim Soares on April 16, 2014. Posted in Healthcare

“Be prepared” might be the Boy Scouts’ motto, but it can help you too, especially in your efforts to quit smoking. Anticipating and understanding the potential symptoms you may experience will help you to stave off cravings and increase your chances of success.

Here are some of the most common side-effects of nicotine withdrawal. You may experience all, some, variations or none of these symptoms.

    1. Irritability

      A perfectly normal side effect of nicotine withdrawal, you should combat irritability with endorphins and relaxants. Try light exercise outside or treat yourself to your favorite de-stressing routines, such as a massage or yoga. You may want to explain to co-workers and friends in advance that this common side effect may last up to a month and ask for their support and understanding.

    2. Low Energy Or Trouble Sleeping

      Because nicotine acts as a stimulant, your brain may have difficulty staying alert without it. Likewise, nicotine may have altered your natural sleep patterns, causing you to experience acute insomnia for up to a week when you first quit.

      If you’re feeling tired, make time to take short naps and avoid caffeine – it will only serve to disrupt your sleep patterns more. Avoid energy drinks at all costs: They can be terrible for your health.

    3. Physical Symptoms

      Quitting smoking can cause you to experience a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms, some that last only a few days and others that can last up to a few weeks. You may have a dry throat, a cough, phlegm, dizziness or a sore chest. Gassiness and constipation can also be expected.

      Staying hydrated and eating healthy can help to reduce some of these symptoms. Consult your physician before using over-the-counter medicines to relieve these symptoms, as some may counteract the rest of your quit smoking plan.

      You may think a cold and flu tablet will help to reduce phlegm, but taking medicine for reasons other than its expressed purposes is inadvisable.

    4. Hunger

      Another common side effect of quitting smoking is hunger. Craving nicotine becomes conflated with craving food. Drink plenty of water and keep healthy bite-sized snacks on hand. Remember, you might not actually be hungry: Your body simply misses the habitual movements of smoking.

      So keep your mouth busy chewing on mini-portions that will not drastically raise your calorie intake, such as baby carrots or grapes.

Expecting these symptoms can help you to be better prepared to combat them. Ideally you might set aside a few personal days in case your withdrawal symptoms are particularly difficult. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are, thankfully, not painful; they are mostly just inconvenient.

Compared to the major health risks and suffering associated with long-term smoking, we consider a month of errant snacking or a few days of grumpiness to be a worthwhile price to pay for a longer, healthier life.

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Kim Soares

VP of Business Development

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