Health Benefits at Two Weeks After You Quit Smoking

If it has been two weeks since you quit smoking, congratulate yourself. While you're probably well aware that smoking cessation is a journey, further understanding how your body and mind will heal the longer you're smoke-free can give you some extra motivation to never light up again.

There are a range of changes that usually occur after about two weeks of not smoking. Some are benefits that may be less noticeable to you, such as a decrease in blood pressure. But other changes may be quite obvious, like feeling less winded after climbing a flight of stairs.

This article covers the many benefits your body experiences after two weeks smoke-free. However, it also discusses some issues you still may be experiencing, and how to stay motivated on your journey to better health without nicotine.

Better Smell and Taste

Nicotine, along with the other chemicals in cigarette smoke, harms the taste buds and nerve responses in the nose. After two weeks smoke-free, you may begin to notice improvements in your sense of smell and taste—and these improvements often continue the longer you go without smoking.

Get ready to rediscover the subtle flavors of foods that, when you smoked, you likely thought lacked flavor.

Unfortunately, you'll also now be able to smell that stale cigarette smoke on your clothing, coats, and inside your home. If possible, enlist a housecleaning service or take your clothing to a dry cleaner for a deep clean (you might even consider this your two-weeks-smoke-free gift to yourself).

Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

Yet another harmful side effect of nicotine is increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Luckily, these functions begin to normalize pretty quickly after you quit smoking.

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate returns to a more normalized state and your blood pressure begins to drop because your blood vessels are no longer constricted by the tobacco smoke. 
  • Within 12 hours, your blood oxygen levels normalize.
  • Within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack begins to decrease.

Easier Breathing

Within two weeks to two months, you might notice that walking and breathing is becoming a little easier. This is because your lung function is improving and the air sacs in your lungs (alveoli) are beginning to relax and produce less mucus.

Take a deep breath and feel your lungs filling up with smoke-free air. Think about how taking that breath would have felt before your final cigarette—especially if you just climbed stairs or ran around with your kids. This easy exercise can serve as a quick reminder of why you decided to kick your nicotine habit.

Toxins Leave the Body

After being smoke-free for 24 hours, nicotine is completely removed from the blood.

In addition, several days after quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide (CO) level in the blood is the same as that of someone who doesn't smoke.

Carbon monoxide is produced when cigarettes are burned, and inhaled by the person who's smoking. Heavy smoking can lead to CO poisoning—symptoms include cognitive distortion and impairment of motor function. In some cases, CO poisoning is fatal.

Fewer Withdrawal Symptoms

Many of the peak physical withdrawal symptoms (insomnia, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, sore throat, and constipation) often subside by your two-week mark. Of course, this can vary from person.

Feeling improvement in the mental symptoms, however, may take a little longer. Especially if smoking was your go-to relaxation strategy, you will likely still be grappling with stress after two weeks. Over time, as you learn new, healthy stress-relievers (that don’t involve nicotine), you will inevitably become more in control of this.

Issues You May Still Be Dealing With

If you're not experiencing noticeable benefits two weeks after quitting smoking, try not to get discouraged. After two weeks smoke-free, some people still experience coughing and shortness of breath as well as withdrawal symptoms such as cravings.

In fact, it's normal for cravings to be triggered long after the two-week mark. Generally speaking, however, the longer you go without cigarettes, the less intense those cravings will feel.

One study found that impaired sense of smell may persist longer than two weeks; whether you fully regain your sense of smell after quitting may depend on how much you smoked and for how long.

Remember that recovery from smoking isn't the same for everyone. Try not to get discouraged by thinking you're supposed to have experienced every health benefit in just two weeks, or by comparing your quitting journey to someone else's.

If your nicotine withdrawal symptoms don't improve after two weeks, especially if you're struggling to manage them, contact a doctor—they can help you explore your options for quitting, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

If you're experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of quitting, seek medical attention. While depressed mood and anxiousness are common symptoms of withdrawal, if they don't improve, clinical treatment may be necessary.

Staying Motivated

Keeping up your motivation to quit smoking (especially when you're frustrated during your journey) is one of the best ways to increase your chances of success.

If you're feeling discouraged, here are some ways to help you keep going:

  • Try a quit smoking app: There are many apps designed to help keep people smoke-free. Many offer journaling tools, a money tracker (to see how much you've saved once you stop buying cigarettes), and daily bits of inspiration like quotes or reminders of the health benefits of quitting.
  • Call a quitline: Quitlines are numbers you can call to receive support and encouragement for quitting smoking. A trained health counselor will give you advice and provide more quitting resources specifically for you. There are a number of of free quitlines, like this one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Attend counseling: You can attend counseling specifically for quitting smoking, either individually or in a group setting. Attending in a group setting may be beneficial as you'll not only learn coping mechanisms to avoid smoking, but receive support and tips from other people who are quitting, too.

A Word From Verywell

The longer you go without nicotine in cigarette smoke, the more health improvements you will experience. This will include changes in your hearing, vision, skin, immunity, cardiovascular health, lungs, muscles, bones, and more. Have patience as your body heals and you relearn a life without cigarettes. And take pride in how far you've already come. You deserve it.

10 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Terry Martin
Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction.