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Ask pharmacist: How long does nicotine withdrawal last?

Suresh Bagga of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor answers your common medicine queries

As part of a weekly series, in association with LloydsPharmacy, Suresh Bagga of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor answers your common medicine queries…

Q. How long do nicotine withdrawal symptoms last?

A. Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, low energy, difficulty concentrating, headaches, hunger and moodiness can last for up to three months.

The nicotine itself is out of your body 72 hours after stopping smoking, and withdrawal symptoms peak at two to three days. But they should completely disappear within one to three months although precisely how long you have these symptoms will vary from person to person.

Q. Will quitting smoking make me hungry?

A. It often does because smoking cigarettes suppresses the appetite by altering pathways in the brain. In addition, once you stop smoking, food starts tasting better because tobacco smoke dulls the senses so people tend to put on weight when they quit. Smoking also speeds up your metabolism so you naturally burn fewer calories when you stop.

And when withdrawal symptoms kick in, many people start eating rather than smoking to distract themselves from the cravings or because they mistake nicotine cravings for feeling hungry.

When you decide to quit, take regular exercise and obviously keep an eye on what you eat – stick to healthy snacks such as nuts and fruit rather than chocolate!


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