You’ve made it 6 days without smoking. Congratulations on reaching this significant milestone!
Quitting smoking can be incredibly challenging, but it’s the best thing you can do for your health and wallet.
At this point, you have pushed past the worst of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and a whole host of positive changes have already taken place in your body.
So, what happens after 6 days of smoking, and what further changes can you look forward to?
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What Happens After 6 Days of Not Smoking?
You’re six days smoke-free. Take a moment to celebrate making it to this critical point.
Several significant changes have occurred throughout your body, signalling a gradual return to health.
Understanding these changes can help keep you motivated to continue on this road to quitting for good, so let’s look at what’s happened in your body up until now.
- Just 20 minutes after you stubbed out your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure returned to normal levels. Your circulation also improved, thanks to the increased blood flow throughout the body.
- 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood fell, and the oxygen levels in your blood returned to normal again.
- A mere day after you quit, your risk of heart attack has already decreased. Your stabilised blood pressure and increased oxygen in the blood are both to thank, here.
- When you reached the two-day mark, your body had completely rid itself of nicotine. Your lungs also started to function properly again. When you smoke, you inhale over 7,000 chemicals, many of which damage the cilia. The cilia are the tiny, hairlike structures that line the lungs and rid them of dirt and mucus. After two days without smoking, the cilia begin to repair themselves and regain movement, clearing the lungs of the harmful, toxic matter building up there.
- Once you’ve hit six to seven days smoke-free, there will be higher levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, in your blood. The nerve endings in your mouth and nose also begin to recover, so you may notice your sense of taste and smell improves.
It’s clear that after six days of not smoking, your body is already well on its way to recovery — and you’re beginning to reap the rewards.
Day 6 No Smoking: The Symptoms
If you’ve been feeling worse for wear since you quit, nicotine withdrawal is the culprit.
- In the first six days after quitting, your withdrawal symptoms are at their strongest.
- They typically begin a few hours after your last cigarette and intensify during the first 72 hours after quitting, when the body has cleared itself of nicotine.
- Nicotine withdrawal lasts around two to four weeks, with the symptoms decreasing in intensity during this period.
- At the four-week mark, most of the symptoms will have disappeared completely.
So, what is nicotine withdrawal?
Nicotine is the main addictive chemical found in tobacco.
When you inhale nicotine, it stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, which is a feel-good hormone that gives you a ‘buzz’.
This is why your feelings of stress, anxiety, agitation, and restlessness are alleviated while you’re smoking (and soon return once you’ve finished your cigarette).
When you smoke over many years, your body becomes used to and dependent on these regular doses of nicotine throughout the day.
Nicotine withdrawal actually begins the minute that you stub out your cigarette.
Depending on how often you smoke, you may experience emotional or physical discomfort and cravings within a few minutes to hours after you last smoked.
This is the beginning of withdrawal.
While you were smoking, you would have reached for another cigarette to abate these sensations, and the cycle continues.
These symptoms begin to intensify when you go longer than usual without smoking, like when you’re quitting.
Your brain is essentially urging you to smoke again.
Nicotine withdrawal presents as both physical and psychological symptoms. They include:
- Restlessness: At this point, your body is used to relaxing through the use of nicotine, so you may now notice a spike in sensations such as restlessness. It’s important to note that your body absorbs twice as much caffeine when you quit, so keep an eye on your caffeine intake, as this will worsen your jittery state.
- Increased hunger and weight gain: Nicotine suppresses appetite and increases metabolism, which is why many people lose weight while smoking. When you no longer consume nicotine, your appetite increases and your metabolism slows down, leading to weight gain. It’s important to remember that this weight gain is, in most cases, a good thing; it’s a sign that your body is returning to health and functioning properly again.
- Sleep disruptions: It’s normal to experience sleep disturbances when you first quit smoking. It can help to create a calming nighttime routine (no caffeine or screens before bed). Ensure your bedroom is dark and set at a comfortable temperature, too.
- Head cold symptoms: You may experience blocked sinuses, a sore throat, a headache, and body aches in the first week after quitting. Keep over-the-counter medications on hand to help you through these symptoms.
- Digestive problems: Quitting smoking can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and cramping. These symptoms usually pass within a few weeks.
- Anxiety or depression: People who smoke are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression than people who don’t smoke. While it may seem like smoking (more specifically, nicotine) alleviates these feelings, nicotine only masks anxiety and depression. It doesn’t treat the underlying condition itself. Your symptoms may worsen after quitting, so it’s important to talk to your GP or mental health professional during this time.
- Mood changes: Feelings such as agitation, anger, and stress are very common after quitting smoking. These mood changes will level again once your body adjusts to functioning without nicotine.
- Cravings: Intense nicotine cravings are common, particularly during the first week after quitting. They can be exacerbated by emotional and situational triggers, so try to avoid these triggers where possible.
- Difficulty concentrating: You may find it hard to focus on tasks after you quit. This is common and will subside within the first month of quitting.
- Cough: You may feel your cough has worsened since quitting. This is because the cilia in your lungs are regaining movement again and working to rid your lungs of the toxins that have built up there. This is a good sign! Visit your GP if your cough doesn’t improve within a month.
Day 6 No Smoking: Cold-Turkey
Quitting smoking cold turkey is extremely challenging, so if you’re struggling to give up cigarettes without assistance, don’t be disheartened.
As mentioned, nicotine withdrawal symptoms are often very intense, especially in the first three to six days after quitting, when the nicotine content first leaves your body.
The benefit of quitting cold turkey is that you’re breaking the addiction cycle immediately.
Several strategies can help you quit cold turkey, including:
- Keeping healthy snacks and drinks on hand to keep your mouth and hands busy.
- Scheduling activities for the moments when you would have smoked to distract yourself from cravings. For example, if you used to smoke before breakfast, go for a walk with a friend instead. If you smoke after dinner, enjoy a warm cup of tea.
- Finding a new book or TV show to keep your mind distracted from thoughts of smoking.
- Keeping cough lozenges and other over-the-counter medicines on hand for withdrawal nausea, coughing, and flu-like symptoms.
- Setting up a support network of friends and family with whom you can call or plan activities when quitting feels challenging.
- Replacing smoking with a different healthy habit. You might like to take a sip of water or juice when you feel a craving come on, or stand up and do a few stretches.
- Keeping a journal to write down how you’re feeling and remind yourself why you’re quitting. This can help release your thoughts and emotions.
Many experts argue that quitting cold turkey often leads to relapses.
Some studies found that only up to 5% of those who quit cold turkey stayed smoke-free for at least six to 12 months.
On the other hand, quitting with the assistance of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) has been proven to significantly increase your chances of quitting. In fact, it has been found that all forms of NRTs increase the chances of quitting by 50 to 60%.
NRTs are products that release small doses of nicotine into the body, without the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco.
They are designed to wean your body off nicotine and reduce the intensity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
These treatments have been shown to result in sustained abstinence from smoking.
NRTs come in various forms, including nicotine patches, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays, sublingual tablets, and gum.
A 2016 study found that after six months of quitting, 23% of people using a nicotine patch, 24% of people taking varenicline, and 27% of people using a nicotine patch and a nicotine lozenge had successfully quit.
At the one-year mark, the results were 21%, 19%, and 20% respectively.
Many experts agree that the combined approach is the most effective: using a nicotine patch and lozenges or gum in the four to 12 weeks after you quit.
You must check with your doctor before continuing the treatment if you feel you’ll need to use NRTs for longer than 12 weeks.
6 Days of No Smoking: The Benefits
We’ve mentioned the health benefits of quitting smoking six days after quitting (of which there are many), but what are the other benefits of giving up cigarettes for good?
One of the added benefits of quitting is that the appearance of your skin will start to improve.
These changes will likely begin to appear within three months after quitting.
Smoking can affect the skin in a few different ways.
Firstly, the tar in cigarettes can cause yellowing of the skin, particularly around the fingers.
Nicotine also restricts blood flow and damages the collagen and elastin fibres in the skin, which speeds up the ageing process.
When you quit, your blood flow returns to normal, as do the levels of oxygen and antioxidants in your body.
These elements encourage skin cell turnover, which improves your skin’s complexion.
Once you’ve quit, your collagen production returns to normal again, which means yellowing, dark spots, and discolouration will begin to fade. Your skin will appear more plump and youthful as a result.
Back Pain Benefits
Quitting smoking can also prevent chronic pain, particularly chronic back pain, from developing or worsening.
Smoking increases the pain sensitivity in our bodies because nicotine interferes with the brain’s ability to regulate pain.
It also interrupts blood flow, damages the spine’s discs, and reduces our capacity to heal from injuries.
While the neurological and vascular effects of smoking cannot be fully reversed, giving up cigarettes can prevent back pain from worsening and can reduce the likelihood of further degeneration occurring.
When you quit, your circulation, blood flow, and immune system function improve within the first six days of quitting.
These factors support spinal health and reduce back pain.
You might be surprised by how much money you can save by quitting smoking.
Currently, a 20-pack-a-day smoker spends $280 on cigarettes weekly. So, within six days of quitting, you can treat yourself to a new item of clothing or an indulgent massage.
You’ll go on to save $560in two weeks, $1,120 in a month, and $13,440 in a year.
With the rising federal taxes on smoking this year (up to 15% by 2026), it’s certainly the best time to quit
When you give up cigarettes, all that extra cash can be put towards other things that will bring you joy, such as a holiday or a house deposit.
I Quit Smoking: What to Look Forward to After Day 6
- Within the first six days of quitting smoking, your body is already undergoing many positive changes. Fortunately, the best is yet to come.
- Two weeks after quitting, you will likely notice you are breathing and exercising easier because of improved circulation and oxygen levels in the body.
- At the one-month mark, most of the withdrawal symptoms will have subsided. Your body is also better at fighting infections and healing from wounds.
- When you reach the six-week point, you may notice that your moods are improved and that you feel less stressed overall.
- Three to six months smoke-free will see you coughing less, now that your cilia have recovered and are better at clearing out your lungs. Your immune and circulatory systems have also improved significantly at this point.
- 9 months after quitting, you will likely have more energy, and your shortness of breath will have improved.
- As you celebrate your one-year anniversary of quitting, you can also celebrate the fact that your risk of coronary heart disease is half of what it was when you smoked. Additionally, your risk of developing other cancers — such as stomach, liver, colon, rectum, and pancreatic — reduces.
- Two to five years after quitting, your risk of heart attack and stroke is the same as that of a non-smoker.
- 10 years after your last cigarette, the risk of lung cancer is half what it was when you smoked.
- At 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.
There’s a lot to look forward to beyond the six-day mark.
If you need more inspiration, you can see the complete timeline to quit smoking and further steps to get yourself on the right track.
Starting Your Quitting Journey with SmokeFree Clinic
A lot happens after six days of not smoking.
Your risk of heart attack has decreased, your lungs are healing themselves, and the flow of oxygen and blood in your body has improved dramatically.
Your sense of taste and smell are also improving, so it’s time to tuck into your favourite meal and savour each bite.
You’ve saved almost $14,000 yearly, too.
After the six-day mark, there’s a lot to look forward to, and you’ve already made it through the hard yards.
Celebrate your six-day milestone with the assurance that you’ve done a great thing for your health and your future.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.