Many people find themselves asking the question as to whether a specific symptom or reaction they are experiencing when first quitting smoking will get better simply if they stick to their quit. If the reaction they are experiencing is simply a withdrawal effect to quitting, the answer is usually going to be yes, but sometimes the symptom is not simply a quitting smoking effect. Video discusses importance of getting symptoms professionally evaluated if they are indicative or conditions that may truly require medical intervention.
Will this get better?
In the first few days of a quit the question is often asked, “will this get better.” If the concept that the physical and psychological reactions occuring are short-term and temporary is not understood, the person often gives up on the effort and ends the quit. They try to stop, get some big time physical discomfort, think this is what life is like as an ex-smoker, and go back to smoking. It is a cycle repeated over and over throughout the world throughout the history of tobacco use.
I always advise people that if the way they felt the first day or two or three was the way they were going to feel the rest of their life by quitting, they should just smoke and die prematurely. To quit smoking only to live 20 extra years in chronic pain wouldn’t be worth it. But when quitting smoking, the way symptoms and reactions that mayt be experienced don’t feel like this forever. What they are experiencing when the quit is not what it is like to be an ex-smoker, it is what it is like to be a smoker in drug withdrawal. This is a very temporary state. Once they get through the third day the physical withdrawal will ease up.
For those in your first few hours or days of your quit, understand the reactions this far are temporary, it is quitting running a normal course, and it will end and you will feel better. When you get flu symptoms from the flu you accept this method of accepting the temporary state of the feelings because you have had the flu before and know they improve and basically, you don’t have a choice. With withdrawal, you don’t believe it will end and you know you have a choice to stop it. You can smoke.
But smoking does not stop withdrawal. It just delays it off for 20 to 30 minutes. Then it starts again. Then you smoke another one. That holds you for 20 to 30 minutes. Then you need another. Get the picture. This is your life now, constantly smoking to put off withdrawal again another half hour or so. All the time poisoning your body with hundreds of poisons. By stopping you withdraw for a few days, and then get better the rest of your life.
Soon you will recognize that your life will go on without smoking. You will be able to face miserable tasks, celebrate life happy events and even just do nothing without smoking–basically live without cigarettes and without the preoccupation of smoking. The longer you are now off and the more life circumstances that you successfully overcome smoke free,the sooner this concept is believed and the the fear of life without smoking will be conquered. Hang in there during this time of uncertainty just know that it will improve and get continually better and better as long as you maintain your focus and never take another puff!
Smoking did not cause everything. It causes a whole lot of things though and many things that it does not cause, it makes worse. On the same token, quitting does not cause everything. Quitting is usually accompanied with many repairs, but there are also some adjustments that go on that may need a partnership with your physicians to get worked out.
My general rule of advice is whatever happens the first few days of a quit, whether it is physical or psychological reactions, blame it on not smoking. It is probably the cause of most early quit reactions. If it is a symptom to a condition that could be life threatening, such as severe chest pains or signs or symptoms of a stroke-contact your doctor immediately. While it is probably nothing and just a side effect of quitting, in the long shot that it is something else coincidentally happening the week you are quitting, you need to get it checked out.
Things happening weeks, months, years or decades after your quits though should not ever be assumed to be a quit smoking reaction. It is life going on without smoking. Some of these things may trigger smoking thoughts-especially if they are similar to conditions you did have in the past when you were a smoker. The situation now is a first time experience with a prior feeling where smoking was integrates thus creating smoking thoughts. But even in this case, the condition is creating a smoking thought, it is not that your smoking memories or your smoking past is creating the condition.
Life goes on without smoking. It is likely to go on longer and it is likely that you will be healthier at each and every stage than you would have been if you had continued smoking. Your life will continue to stay better and likely last long longer as long as you always remember to never take another puff!
I normally tell people who experience wild or bizarre reactions the first few days not to be surprised or unduly alarmed, it is likely from not smoking. But at the same time they should not totally ignore certain symptoms, in case in the long shot that something else is happening just coincidently at the same time as they are quitting smoking. The symptom of muscle tightness is often felt through out the body. Back aches, neck pains such as those experienced from times of extreme stress, even leg cramps can be felt by some. Chest tightness too can be experienced. While quitting smoking is the usual reason behind the reaction, for obvious safety reasons it is prudent to get the symptoms checked with ones doctor. You just don’t want to take the chance that you were the exception to the rule, that the chest pain was actually a signal of real heart trouble.
I have literally had over 4,500 people in smoking clinics over a 26 year time period and had only had two people actually have heart attacks within a week of quitting. And they were both people who were quitting because of doctors advice that a heart attack was an imminent danger because of pre-existing conditions. So while I am not trying to say that the risk of a heart attack is high from quitting, in fact your risk of heart attack decreases upon cessation and relatively quickly, there still is a risk as there is with all smokers, ex-smokers and even all never smokers. Ignoring a cardiac symptom is just an unnecessary risk that no one should take. It is better to check in with your doctor and to be safe than sorry. Doctors are often very receptive to work with a person when they are quitting for they often recognize the serious nature of the effort.
So as for symptoms, don’t be surprised or alarmed by anything, but be cautious and stay aware. If you experience any symptom that would normally be a reason to get checked out immediately, follow through with the same expedience now. Life goes on without smoking and things can always happen.
Also, once over the first few days, be really cautious of blaming symptoms on smoking cessation. While some reactions can linger, especially coughing and excessive phlegm reactions, other factors can happen too, especially during cold and flu seasons. Pretty much stay aware and follow the normal precautions you followed before while smoking. Unless as a smoker you never did anything, for some smokers are intimidated to go to the doctor when having symptoms for shear embarrassment that the doctor would just chastise them for smoking and tell them to stop. Rather than putting up with the admonishments, they would ignore problems in the past.
As an ex-smoker you won’t face the same complications. Again, doctors are often more prone to work with you when they see you working for yourself, and not to ignore symptoms writing them off to a normal smoker’s ailments. They are often more supportive when you quit.
So to stay healthy, learn to listen to your body. Smokers are notoriously bad at this, for their body was likely telling them to quit for a long time and they ignored it. But the day the quit smoking was a good indication that they were now working with their body to maintain health. To keep a good partnership going with your doctor, other health professionals, your family, friends and your own body always remember to never take another puff!
The following resources touch on different aspects of possible reasons for early withdrawal symptoms or for ongoing symptoms that people may experience after quitting:
When you may really need to talk to your doctor about quitting smoking
“Is anyone else experiencing the symptom of…?
Going back to normal after quitting
Does nicotine withdrawal really last for months or years?
Resources regarding mental health issues
Using cigarettes to self medicate pre-existing conditions
“Is this a symptom of quitting smoking?” (part 2)
“Is this a symptom of quitting smoking?”
Life goes on without smoking
Blood sugar issues when quitting smoking
Your first allergy season after quitting smoking
Medication adjustments that may be necessary after quitting smoking
Possible changes in caffeine tolerance
Why I recommend cranberry juice when first quitting smoking
Disorientation that may occur when first quitting smoking
After quitting smoking is there such a thing as a “quitter’s flu”?
Does smoking cause my headaches?
Why many people cough more after quitting