12 Common Symptoms of Tobacco Withdrawal

Quitting tobacco constitutes a major change for anyone whether they smoked for only 5 years or 50.

While many turn to e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, there are symptoms besides those associated with nicotine withdrawals that can appear for a period of time. Even though thousands if not millions have successfully made the switch, the possibility of withdrawal symptoms from tobacco cigarettes is still very real.

Many of these symptoms listed below in fact may not occur for a month or more after quitting tobacco cigarettes. These symptoms, provided by ‘bghouse’ on the ECF forum, do not bear any relation to whether a user simply switched from tobacco to e-cigarettes or if they quit smoking altogether.

Continue reading for a list and quick description of these 12 symptoms ex-smokers may encounter.

Courtesy of zole4

1. Mouth Ulcers

Affecting many quitters, ulcers in the mouth are a common symptom of tobacco withdrawal that can be very painful. Starting a week or more after quitting, the ulcers or gum inflammation generally clear up after a few days or a week. Topical treatment gels and certain vitamins in high-doses are shown to effectively treat them.

It is possible that nicotine absorbed through the mouth by using an e-cigarette can exacerbate the problem but that’s unclear. To be safe, rinse your mouth out with water after using your e-cigarette. This will get the nicotine out of your mouth and not give it a chance to sit there and irritate your mouth tissues.

2. Quit Zits

Just when you thought zits were in the past along with your teen years, quitting tobacco can cause skin eruptions that form spots and severe acne. These occur even if you didn’t experience breakouts when you were younger. Sadly, these zits can last for months.

Although empirical evidence is limited, there appears to be no link between quit zits and e-cigarette usage. Experiments are currently underway to see if any particular flavors help alleviate or exacerbate quit zits.

3. Headaches, Nausea, Shakiness

These symptoms, along with irritability, inability to concentrate, poor sleep, depression, etc. are common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. You can even experience these symptoms if you’re using a low strength nicotine e-liquid and are not absorbing as much nicotine as when you smoked. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week.

If you’ve switched to e-cigarettes, consider higher strength nicotine e-liquid for a period of time, and then reduce strength as needed.

4. Coughing

Considered to most common symptom of quitting tobacco, coughing symptoms are especially prevalent in the first few days. Severity and duration depends on how heavy a smoker you were and how many tobacco cigarettes you still have while vaping with an e-cigarette.

5. Sputum and Phlegm production

Regardless of whether you switch to an e-cigarette or not, most ex-smokers find that their bodies begin trying to get rid of all of the nasty substances like tar and other materials coating the lungs. These materials are coughed up in the form of sputum and phlegm. How long this ‘cleansing’ process lasts varies but most claim coughing went away in about a week with the rest of the junk coming up within a month.

6. Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Some former smokers have claimed they’ve experienced heartburn and acid reflux after quitting (…this is mainly reported by those who simply quit and don’t switch to an e-cigarette).

This symptom eventually goes away if you experience it but using Gaviscon liquid, an over-the-counter med, helps alleviate these symptoms by coating the gullet, which stops the acid burning.

7. Muscle Cramps and Aches

Some ex-smokers have reported muscle cramps and aches after quitting. One explanation is that propylene glycol found in e-cigarettes promotes the production of lactic acid, which has to be eliminated from the body. Drinking more water helps alleviate cramps and aches. However, claims that PG exacerbates these symptoms haven’t been proven.

8. Night Sweats

Other ex-smokers have reported having night sweats but it’s unclear on if this symptom is related to tobacco withdrawal or not.

9. Diarrhea

Others have reported diarrhea but like night sweats, it’s unclear on whether this can be considered a symptom of tobacco withdrawal. Intolerance to propylene glycol has been blamed by some as the cause of diarrhea but it isn’t proven since switching to vegetable glycerin (…another base of e-cig liquid) doesn’t get rid of the diarrhea.

10. Hiccups

It’s said that one of the causes of this pesky symptom is nicotine overdose. It generally only affects those who ingest nicotine orally (i.e. chewing tobacco, snuff, SNUS) and swallow the juice, which causes hiccups.

11. Bleeding gums

Another withdrawal symptom of tobacco cigarettes that’s occasionally been reported is bleeding gums, which is also a symptom of vitamin C deficiency. Therefore, it may be wise to take a vitamin C supplement for a period of time after you quit.

12. Thyroid issues

The medical community is currently discussing whether issues in the thyroid can occur after a smoker quits. Statistically, the rate of thyroid problems after quitting tobacco is statistically higher than those who have never smoked, which suggests cigarette usage suppresses any symptoms with the thyroid.

Not much research has been done on this symptom so it’s vitally important you discuss your individual situation with your doctor.

As you can see, there are several symptoms that can crop up after quitting tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes by and large haven’t shown to either exacerbate or inhibit these symptoms. However, research is pretty scarce so those assertions can certainly change.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any new research and developments.

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