What Happens When You Quit Smoking

What Happens When You Quit Smoking Timeline?

In the first days you feel tired, weak, and have trouble concentrating. Your body aches all over. After a few days, your appetite goes down and you start feeling nauseous. You begin to experience severe stomach pain that lasts for several hours. Within two weeks of quitting smoking, you are experiencing symptoms similar to those of a heavy alcohol or drug addiction relapse. These symptoms include:



Nausea and vomiting (if you drink) or diarrhea if you use drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, methadone, etc.

Loss of energy and mental alertness. You may not even realize it at times. The physical withdrawal symptoms last from 2-6 months depending on the individual’s age and health status.

The most common side effect of quitting smoking is loss of hair. However, other possible side effects include:


Anxiety attacks (especially anxiety related to social situations)

Chronic coughs and phlegm production (if you smoke cigarettes) or sinus infections (if you smoke pipes/hookahs)

If you suffer from any of these complications, consult with your doctor immediately.

The best way to prevent any complications is to seek help from your doctor.

Quitting smoking timeline

The first 20 minutes

After you put out your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate drop to a more normal level. Your body has more oxygen and your mind starts functioning more clearly.

4 hours after quitting

Your body has eliminated most of the nicotine and other toxic substances from your blood. Your blood oxygen level is back to normal.

5 hours after quitting

The levels of carbon monoxide in your blood have dropped to normal levels. The amount of oxygen in your blood increases.

10 hours after quitting

The amount of nicotine in your body drops to half of the amount it was when you were smoking.

Days 2-3 after quitting

Most of the nicotine has cleared out of your body and your blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing have almost returned to normal. Your risk of heart attack begins to decrease.

4 weeks after quitting

Your risk of having a heart attack begins to drop substantially.

1 year after quitting

Your risk of having a heart attack is now about half that of a smoker’s. After 10 years it is about the same as a person who has never smoked.

5-15 years after quitting

Cancer danger drops. The risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus decreases.

10 years after quitting

The risk of getting lung cancer drops. The risk is now about half that of a smoker’s.

15 years after quitting

The risk of getting Coronary Heart Disease is now about the same as a person who has never smoked.

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Sources & references used in this article:

Perceived support to stay quit: What happens after delivery? by ER Park, Y Chang, VP Quinn, K Ross, NA Rigotti – Addictive behaviors, 2009 – Elsevier

Helping patients in hospital to quit smoking: Dedicated counselling services are effective—others are not by R West – 2002 – bmj.com

Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation by J Hartmann-Boyce, R Begh, P Aveyard – Bmj, 2018 – bmj.com

Postpartum smoking relapse by CM McBride, PL Pirie – Addictive behaviors, 1990 – Elsevier

Psychological factors in smoking by DE Green – Research on smoking behavior, 1977 – books.google.com

Telephone quitlines to help surgical patients quit smoking: patient and provider attitudes by DO Warner, RC Klesges, LC Dale, KP Offord… – American journal of …, 2008 – Elsevier

What happens to women’s self‐reported cigarette consumption and urinary cotinine levels in pregnancy? by T Lawrence, P Aveyard, E Croghan – Addiction, 2003 – Wiley Online Library