Seven Quit Smoking Side Effects: The Essential Guide for New Vapers and Quittersby James Dunworth Science
Although this is a blog about vaping, I think this is an important post for both smokers quitting and for new vapers (electronic cigarette users).
That's because while some vapers switch to e-cigarettes effortlessly, others struggle, and some get withdrawals symptoms (especially those using low zero nicotine e-liquid).
This year, for example, I've heard two people complaining of mouth ulcers from vaping. While there may well be side effects from quitting vaping - we do that know a very small minority of people are allergic to propylene glycol, and that it can cause sore or dry throats - some reported side effects are also identical to those caused by quitting smoking.
So here's an overview of the negative effects of quitting smoking to expect when you stop using tobacco cigarettes!
According to guidance from the NHS, quitting smoking leads to a change of chemicals in your body, which can in turn cause more mouth ulcers than normal. There are other causes, so do check out the NHS page on mouth ulcers if it is a worry.
I remember talking to an athlete in Greece who was a heavy smoker. She decided to quit smoking - and fainted in the street. (Being in Greece, her doctor recommended that she keep smoking, which I don't think you would get in the UK.)
There's precious little information about fainting while on the net, so this may be a rare incidence, but studies have reported dizziness while trying to quit.
Nicotine makes the brain release dopamine, helping us to feel good. Smoking can also help to calm us or to stimulate us (see Nicotine and Electronic Cigarettes: 10 Facts All Users Should Know.) So it's not surprising that if you are getting no or less nicotine you can experience mood swings, depression and anxiety.
One study also found that smoking cessation can lead to depression in women, although this comes with the caveat that it was a very small study.
Smoking helps control weight. One study found that that when people quit smoking, men gained on average 2.8kg in weight while women gained 3.8 kg.
Some of this may be attributable to nicotine, or it might just be the case that people use eating to replace the habit of smoking.
In one poll we ran on Facebook, 49% of reported feeling less hungry when they vaped, with 14% reporting no effect and 37% unsure.
When we first wrote this article, that was all we had to go on, but since then one study has found that smokers who switched to vaping experienced no weight gain at all.
Another quit smoking side effect I recently ran across (have you experienced this?) is problems with sleep. Quitting smoking can cause either sleepiness or insomnia, and has been reported by vapers who have only recently quit smoking. This is backed up by the Prosise study we mentioned early, which found people quitting wake up more in the night and experience more daytime sleepiness.
Fatigue generally only lasts for a couple of weeks or so, so if it persists after this time it might be worth checking with your doctor.
Both smokers in the process of quitting and vapers switching to ecigs have reported getting headaches. I've seen various reasons given for this, including oxygen levels in the blood returning to normal and because of the body's cravings for more nicotine.
It could also be linked to other changes brought on by quitting smoking, such as a lack of sleep or increased coffee drinking.
Yes, there's more! Quitters have also reported:
- Lack of Concentration
- Stomach Aches
Have you experienced a side effect not listed here? Let us know in the comments.
If you're really worried about any side effects from quitting smoking/taking up vaping - don't read a blog post - most of us bloggers are not medical experts, so get advice from a real doctor ;)
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Also see our other beginner's guides:
Bock et al (1996): Depression following smoking cessation in women, Science Direct, Journal of Substance Abuse, Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 137-144 DOI: 10.1016/S0899-3289(96)90151-0
Caponetto et al (2013): EffiCiency and Safety of an eLectronic cigAreTte (ECLAT) as Tobacco Cigarettes Substitute: A Prospective 12-Month Randomized Control Design Study, Plos.org, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066317
Prosise et al (1994): Effects of Abstinence From Smoking on Sleep and Daytime Sleepiness Science Direct, Volume 105, Issue 4, April 1994, Pages 1136-1141 DOI: 10.1378/chest.105.4.1136
Ward M et al (2001) Self-reported abstinence effects in the first month after smoking cessation Science Direct, Addiction Volume 26, Issue 3, Pages 311-327, DOI: 10.1016/S0306-4603(00)00107-6
Williamson et al (1991) Smoking Cessation and Severity of Weight Gain in a National Cohort N Engl J Med; 324:739-745, DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199103143241106