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How To Manage Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms More Easily


Updated July 20, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How To Manage Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms More Easily
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Physical withdrawal from nicotine is temporary, but it can be uncomfortable while it lasts. Understanding what to expect when you quit smoking and following the tips provided here for coping will help you move through this stage more easily.

The following list contains commonly reported symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Most people experience some of these, but rarely all of them. Each person goes through this phase of recovery from nicotine addiction a little differently. But for most people, these discomforts are short-lived.

Check with your doctor if you're concerned about a physical reaction you're having to smoking cessation, or if nicotine withdrawal symptoms persist.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Cravings to smoke
  • Irritable, cranky
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Constipation, gas, stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore tongue and/or gums
  • Postnasal drip
  • Tightness in the chest

Read more: 8 Common Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

Coping Skills for Nicotine Withdrawal The Five D's

  • Delay until the urge passes - usually within 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Distract yourself. Call a friend or go for a walk.
  • Deep Breaths - Relax! Close your eyes and take 10 slow, deep breaths.
  • Discuss your feelings with someone close to you or at the support forum here at About.com Smoking Cessation.

Read more: The 5 D's of Smoking Cessation

Other Ways to Manage Nicotine Withdrawal Include:

  • Exercise. If you're unaccustomed to exercising, start slowly. Take a 15-minute walk once or twice a day, and work up from there. Choose activities that appeal to you, so you'll do them consistently. Exercise reduces cravings to smoke while helping you feel better in general.

    Read more: Top 10 Reasons to Start Walking
  • Get More Rest. As smokers, our bodies were used to taking in not only nicotine, but all of the literally thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke. The stress of abruptly cutting off that supply, as unhealthy as it was, can leave us feeling tired and wilted. If you're fatigued and can manage it during the day, take a nap. And go to bed a little earlier than usual if you need to. It will do you good.

    Read more: Harmful Chemicals in Cigarettes

    On the other hand, if you're at the opposite end of the spectrum and find yourself unable to sleep (which is common also), try taking a long walk several hours before bed.

    Read more: Managing Insomnia When You Quit Smoking
  • Take a Multivitamin. Consider adding a good multivitamin to your daily regimen for the first few months after quitting tobacco. It will help offset nicotine withdrawal symptoms and replenish depleted nutrients.

    Read more: When Vitamin Supplements are Beneficial
  • Relaxation and Rewards. Take time alone to read a good book. Indulge in a hot bath at the end of the day. Whatever pampers and relaxes you is a great choice. Don't think of it as a luxury; think of it as a protective measure for your quit program.

    Read more: Smoking Cessation Rewards

Cessation is hard work early on, and when we take the time to recharge our batteries and replenish our spirits, we put ourselves in the best possible position for continued success. Do this step religiously every single night, and you'll find that you are better equipped to start the next day off on the right foot.

Read more: Top 10 Tension Busters

Don't let nicotine withdrawal scare you.

Remember - nicotine withdrawal is a temporary phase of recovery. It doesn't last long and better days....much better days lie ahead. The fantastic feeling of freedom and control you'll get when you successfully beat this addiction is worth every bit of effort you give to quitting, and then some.

You are worth it.

For more help, sign up for About.com's 10-part free quit smoking email course.

Source:"Nicotine Withdrawal." MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 17 May 2006. National Institutes of Health. 8 April 2007.

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