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Can withdrawal symptoms of cigarette smoking be adverse?

Q: I tried to quit smoking earlier this year but couldn't. I finally quit this habit 6 months back and haven't had even a single cigarette since then. I am 45 years old and I weigh 186 lbs and I am 5 inches and 7 feet tall. Six months after quitting, I weigh 265 lbs. I have swelling in my feet that I can barely walk. I had to take blood pressure medicine, which I did not take while smoking. I remain tired constantly. I go to sleep 3-4 times a day and wake up exhausted. My appetite has decreased. My additional weight is hard for me to carry around and is a burden on my lower back. Honestly I am sicker than when I used to smoked. Can stopping smoking, affect my body in such an adverse way? I started smoking when I was 15 years old.

A:When smokers quit smoking, the absence of nicotine leads to withdrawal symptoms, which has both physical and psychological effects. Physiologically, the body is reacts to the absence of nicotine while psychologically, one is faced with giving up a habit, which is a major change in behaviour. These uncomfortable symptoms lead the smoker to again start smoking cigarettes to boost blood levels of nicotine back to a level where there are no symptoms. Tackling both is imperative if quitting is to be successful. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last cigarette and peak about 2 to 3 days later. They may last for a few days to several weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following: depression, feelings of frustration and anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, restlessness, headache, tiredness and increased appetite. Quitting tobacco is akin to losing weight; it takes a strong commitment over a long period of time and there is no magic bullet to make quitting painless and easy. Successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment and you should try to use the four A’s – avoid (people and places where you are tempted to smoke); alter (your habits); alternatives (use oral substitutes) and activities (exercise or hobbies that keep your hands busy) to deal with it. Consulting a doctor and using nicotine substitutes will help.

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