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Smoking kills—everyone knows that, right? And yet, about 20% of Indian men and 2% of Indian women smoke according to the Global Adult Tobacco survey conducted in India during 2016-17.
While the fatality of smoking comes later, sucking on that tobacco-laden cigarette also comes with a host of health problems. The surprising part is that according to the survey, 92% of adults were aware that smoking can cause serious illnesses.
The survey also found that 55% of current smokers were thinking of quitting smoking, but usually remained unsuccessful. And half of those who tried to quit did not last even one month and went back to taking a puff.
Quitting smoking isn’t as easy as it seems
It’s never just about the resolve to never smoke again. Quitting smoking requires help from family, colleagues, support groups, and counsellors as well as timely medical intervention by a physician with nicotine replacement therapy and/or medicines to tackle withdrawal symptoms.
Understanding the withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking
Smoking affects many parts of the body, including the heart, hormones, metabolism, and brain. So, when you quit smoking and its effect on the body starts wearing off, the withdrawal symptoms start appearing.
Also read: This 5-step guide will help you quit smoking
The intensity and duration of these withdrawal symptoms depend on how long you were smoking and how many cigarettes you would puff on in a day. Typically, the smoking withdrawal symptoms last for five to six weeks and includes:
Physical withdrawal symptoms consist of loss of appetite, cravings, fatigue, headache, cough, and constipation.
An increased appetite is due to the lack of chemicals which were suppressing hunger while smoking. People tend to eat more after quitting smoking and gain weight. Eventually, this symptom disappears in a few days or weeks.
The craving for nicotine, however, is the most difficult symptom to manage. It comes in phases and might start in the first hour of quitting smoking. Each craving lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. You have to do your best to tide over the cravings by listening to music, watching videos, remaining busy in your work, or keeping yourself busy by talking to a friend or spouse.
Headaches and dizziness are usually mild symptoms and pass with little effort. Constipation, on the other hand, might pose a challenge. So, consume lots of fruits and vegetables and wholegrain cereals.
Mental and emotional symptoms
Smoking relieves stress, so a lack of smoking may lead to increased anxiety. It may last for a couple of weeks, while depression might for three to four weeks. You might need medical intervention for these symptoms if they become more intense and last longer.
You might become easily irritable because of trivial things and experience mental fog, where you’re not able to concentrate. Again, these symptoms usually pass in a few days to weeks.
This is long it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to take over
This is how long it takes for the benefits to show up when you quit smoking
In the end…
Yes, quitting smoking is not easy. But given the benefits that kicking this bad habit to the curb has to offer, it’s worth the pain and withdrawal symptoms—don’t you think?