Navigating the Storm: Understanding Common Withdrawal Symptoms of Quitting Smoking

If a person’s throat feels “weird” after quitting smoking, it is usually one of the symptoms that stem from the sudden absence of nicotine. Because the nicotine in cigarette smoke affects many parts of the body, stopping smoking can cause temporary discomfort that presents in various ways, including a weird-feeling or sore throat.

Other cold symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, may sometimes accompany throat symptoms. Nicotine withdrawal may alsoTrusted Source produce emotional effects, such as anxiety, and physical effects, such as nausea.

Although withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source say that since 2018, over 61% of adults who have ever smoked cigarettes have now quit.

This article discusses why a person’s throat may feel weird after quitting smoking and other nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It also examines the treatment and healing time for throat symptoms, ways of quitting, and benefits to expect.

How does quitting smoking affect the throat?

Nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarette smoke, affects many parts of the body. When a person quits smoking, they cut off their source of nicotine, so their body needs time to get used to not having it. This time of adjustment, called nicotine withdrawal, can have wide-ranging effects, including a weird-feeling or sore throat and other cold or flu symptoms.

Nicotine is an addictive chemical that affects neurotransmitters in the brain, altering the activity of chemicals such as:

  • dopamine
  • serotonin
  • acetylcholine
  • norepinephrine

These chemicals affect mood, memory, and feelings of pleasure. When a person quits smoking, their body has to adjust to the changes without nicotine, including changes that affect it physically and mentally.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR) discusses the primary symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, includingTrusted Source a sore throat and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Symptoms can manifest 72 hours after quitting and are usually the most severe during this time. “Smoker’s flu” is a common name for the effects someone may experience when quitting smoking. However, stopping smoking does not cause the flu.

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