10 Common Symptoms of Nicotine Withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal can trigger a whole host of physical and psychological symptoms that leaves ex-smokers feeling both physically ill and mentally stressed and anxious. This is particularly true if you try to quit "cold turkey." 

While most people will experience some discomfort commonly associated with nicotine withdrawal, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the symptoms. The tips below will give you a head start on what to expect as you move through this phase of smoking cessation.

Don't fear nicotine withdrawal.  It isn't fun, but it is temporary.


I just need some time off...
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Smoking urges come with the territory when you are recovering from nicotine addiction.  Learning how to manage those impulses will help you shift from feeling powerless to knowing that you can manage this short but intense phase of smoking cessation.



USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Woman opening fridge at night
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New ex-smokers reach for food when they're craving cigarettes.  The reasons for this are more involved than simply looking for a replacement for smoking. Chemical changes taking place in the body due to smoking cessation are partly responsible. Learn how you can avoid overindulging when you quit smoking.



Happy woman laying on bed
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Sleep problems are a normal side effect of nicotine withdrawal​ and can run the gamut from quit-related insomnia to needing extra sleep during the course of a day. Don't let it throw you.  If you slept well before you stopped smoking, this temporary upset will smooth out soon.



Young woman coughing
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It can be alarming to develop a cough after you stop smoking, but it is not uncommon. Take a look at why this sometimes happens and how to evaluate whether the cough might be more serious than a symptom of nicotine withdrawal.



Feeling sick with the flu
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A term used to describe the general discomforts associated with nicotine withdrawal is 'Quitter's Flu', because that's often just how it feels.  From aches and pains to a sore throat, it might be quitter's flu if you recently stopped smoking.



Stressful day at the office
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Smoking cessation will reduce the stress in your life considerably, but not until you've recovered fully from nicotine addiction. Additionally, it is not unusual to develop anxiety once you've quit smoking. Quitting cold turkey can exacerbate the condition. Learn what you can do to minimize the effects of cessation-related stress while you're going through nicotine withdrawal.



Severe morning stomach pain. Debica, Poland
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Upsets in the digestive system that result in constipation are a common complaint among new ex-smokers. Use the tips in this article to help you manage this uncomfortable symptom of nicotine withdrawal.



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There is an inner voice that batters at us incessantly to go ahead and light up once we've quit.  This is called junkie thinking.  It will pass in time as long as we learn how to recognize and redirect these unhealthy thoughts of smoking.



woman holding her head
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This is a less common symptom of nicotine withdrawal, but some ex-smokers do experience lightheaded/dizzy feelings when they first stop smoking. Learn why this happens and what you can do about it if it's happening to you.



Prescription pills scattered on table with empty pill packets
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Some medicines that you may take on a regular basis can be affected by smoking cessation. The rate at which your body metabolizes certain medications can change once you stop smoking, so be sure to check with your doctor if you think this might apply to you.



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Most long-term smokers want to quit, many of them have for years. Why then, do they fear smoking cessation to the extent that they put it off over and over and over again? If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Nicotine addiction plays some strange mind games with smokers, but you have what it takes to overcome them and get on with it.  


A Word from Verywell

There is no question that for most of us, nicotine withdrawal is an intense experience that we'd prefer to skip if it were possible. Unfortunately, we have to go through it to get through it. That said, this phase of smoking cessation doesn't last forever and with a little knowledge about what to expect, you can learn to manage the discomforts you experience. Proactively participate in your recovery and take each smoke-free day as it comes. Don't get ahead of yourself and worry about never smoking again. Just focus on today and resolve to make it through smoke-free. Smoking cessation is worth the work it takes to achieve, and the benefits that await you are more numerous than you can probably imagine. Smoking was likely attached to nearly everything you did, and once you stop, the advantages touch most aspects of our lives in a positive way.