You quit smoking 4 months ago. Congratulations on reaching this significant milestone! Quitting smoking is no easy feat, but at the 4-month mark, you’ve made it through the toughest withdrawal symptoms. You’re now well on your way to a permanent smoke-free future. Many people are surprised to learn of all the physical and psychological benefits that occur in the first few months after quitting. Understanding how your body has changed in the 4 months can help to motivate you on your journey. Here, we unpack exactly what you’re experiencing 4 months after quitting smoking.
Quitting Smoking: The First Month
A lot of major changes took place in the first 4 weeks after you quit smoking.
Some of these changes may have been noticeable, but you may have been completely unaware of others.
In the first 4 weeks, your body entered an intensive recovery phase. Let’s take a look at what was going on.
Chat to an Aussie GP today
Bulk-billed phone consultations
TGA-authorised Aussie doctors
Nicotine vaping scripts available
Three Days After Quitting Smoking
Your body actually began healing in the first few minutes after you put out your last cigarette.
One of the main components of cigarettes is nicotine. This is the chemical that makes tobacco addictive. It negatively impacts the body in a number of ways.
Nicotine causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which is why smokers are at an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
20 minutes after you put out your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart rate dropped back down to normal levels.
Between 6 and 48 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide levels in the body began to fall. At this point, 4 months later, your carbon monoxide levels are normal again.
Within 72 hours of quitting, your body completely rid itself of nicotine.
All of these changes took place within the first 3 days of quitting. However, these first 3 days were likely the toughest on your road to quitting.
It’s within those first 3 days that the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are at their most severe.
When you smoke regularly, your body becomes used to getting consistent doses of nicotine. The nicotine actually stimulates the brain into releasing dopamine and serotonin, which is why you feel good when you smoke.
In-between cigarettes, the nicotine levels in your body decrease, and your brain signals that it needs another hit of nicotine. At this moment, your body enters a phase of withdrawal.
Essentially, all of these symptoms are what usually prompt you to reach for another cigarette.
As you’ll know now that you’re 4 months smoke-free, the withdrawal symptoms gradually decline in the first four weeks after you quit.
1 Week After Quitting Smoking
The 1-week milestone was an important one. Smokers who make it 1 week without smoking are 9 times more likely to successfully quit.
7 days after quitting, your physical nicotine withdrawal symptoms likely reduced in severity.
At this point, you may have noticed your sense of taste and smell improved. Smoking damages the smell receptors in your nose and taste buds in your mouth, which dilutes the intensity of certain flavours and aromas. These receptors slowly regain function when you quit.
1 week after quitting, the levels of protective antioxidants in your blood, such as vitamin C, increased. Research suggests that smokers have lower vitamin C levels than nonsmokers, but when you quit, these levels rise again.
2 Weeks After Quitting Smoking
At the 2-week mark, you may have noticed you could breathe a little easier. Perhaps walking and exercise felt more comfortable at this point.
These improvements occurred thanks to improved oxygen flow and lung function. 2 weeks after quitting, the air sacs in the lungs begin to relax and produce less mucus, meaning you can breathe easier.
The most intense physical withdrawal symptoms are likely to have subsided at this point. Your sore throat, dry mouth, headaches, stomach upset, and fatigue may have cleared up.
For most people, cravings also decrease in frequency and duration within the first 2 weeks of quitting.
The psychological withdrawal symptoms are the most persistent and the last to go. 2 weeks after quitting, it’s normal for stress and anxiety levels to remain elevated.
4 Weeks After Quitting Smoking
Try to recall how you felt 4 weeks after you quit smoking.
You may have noticed the appearance of your skin improved, with less yellowing around the tips of your fingers.
The toxins in cigarettes irritate the sinuses, which can lead to chronic problems. 1 month into your quitting journey, it’s likely any sinus issues and congestion began clearing up.
In the first 4 weeks after quitting smoking, your lungs worked hard to heal themselves. Our lungs are actually incredibly resilient and begin the reparation process as soon as you stub out your last cigarette.
The cilia are the tiny hair-like structures that line the lung tissue. Their job is to rid the lungs of toxins and bacteria to prevent infection and disease.
When you smoke, you inhale more than 7,000 chemicals. These toxins and the tar in tobacco cause the cilia to become stuck, meaning they cannot effectively clear debris from the lungs.
As a result, these substances build up in your lungs and the cilia have to work harder to push them back out. This is what causes the smoker’s cough.
4 weeks after quitting, your cough may have worsened. This is because the cilia are healing, regrowing, and regaining movement, working overtime to clean out your lungs.
Quit Smoking: 4 Months Later
4 months after quitting smoking, your body has transformed for the better in a number of ways.
The improvements to your physical health are widespread and significant, but it’s at this point that the psychological improvements really start setting in.
Your lungs have been working hard to heal themselves over the past 4 months.
4 months after quitting, your cough will have improved, and you’ll experience less wheezing and shortness of breath. The cilia have almost completely healed and have removed the mucus, tar, and toxins from your lungs, so you’ll be less likely to regularly cough up phlegm.
Your immune system is also beginning to recover at the 4-month mark. You may notice you become sick less often, and when you do get sick, your body recovers more quickly.
4 months in and your blood is less thick and sticky, so your circulation significantly improves. You’ll likely notice this in your extremities.
Any physical withdrawal symptoms you experienced — headaches, fluey symptoms, stomach upset, and increased pain sensitivity — should have cleared by now.
If you’re still experiencing bothersome symptoms, have a chat with your GP. They will be able to make sure there’s nothing else at play and recommend strategies to help you.
As discussed, nicotine withdrawal can trigger feelings of anger, irritability, stress, and restlessness. Provided you do not have an underlying mental health condition, these psychological symptoms will have eased significantly 4 months after quitting smoking.
You’ll also enjoy a better quality of life months after quitting. When you become addicted to nicotine, your emotional state becomes closely tied to whether or not you regularly receive your dose of nicotine. As mentioned, you may feel agitated or upset in-between cigarettes until you smoke again, because nicotine is interfering with your dopamine receptors.
Within 4 months of quitting, your dependence on nicotine wanes and you’re no longer relying on the chemical to feel good. This results in a better quality of life and overall freedom. You will no longer need to isolate yourself from coworkers, friends, or family who don’t smoke, and your day-to-day activities won’t be interrupted by smoke breaks.
As nicotine is no longer controlling your mood, you’ll likely feel calmer and happier in general. The improvements to your physical health also go a long way in improving your mental health.
Quitting Smoking: Anxiety and Depression
Quitting smoking can be particularly challenging in people who have underlying anxiety or depressive disorders, as smoking is often used as a way of coping with these feelings.
Many people find their anxiety or depression alleviated when they smoke. It’s common to mistake the relief nicotine provides as helping the underlying anxiety or depression. What’s actually happening is that in-between cigarettes, feelings of anxiety or depression worsen due to nicotine withdrawal. Smoking again has a kind of bandaid effect that momentarily relieves that discomfort. The underlying anxiety or depression remains.
If you do have a mental health condition or are experiencing difficulties quitting, it’s important to get in touch with a GP or mental health professional. They will be able to support you on your quitting journey and provide additional strategies.
When you quit smoking 4 months ago, your body immediately began to heal itself. You’re now reaping the rewards. Enjoy the experience of breathing easier, sleeping better, and feeling happier.
So, what’s next? Fortunately, there’s a lot to look forward to.
6 months after quitting smoking, many people notice they’re better at handling stress without craving a cigarette. This is a promising predictor of prolonged abstinence.
At the 1-year mark, your risk of developing diabetes and certain cancers — including liver, colon, rectum, stomach, and pancreatic cancer — is significantly reduced.
After 5 years, your stroke risk is the same as the risk for non-smokers.
After 10 years, your lung cancer risk is half of what it was when you smoked.
At 15 years, your heart disease risk is the same as that of non-smokers.
Take a moment to congratulate yourself on 4 months smoke-free. You’ve made the best possible decision for your health and your future.
If you need more inspiration, learn about the complete timeline to quit smoking and feel motivated to finally kick the habit for good.
For additional support and advice, you can book a bulk-billed, 100% free telehealth appointment with a specialist-trained GP.