If you’ve just started on your quitting journey, it may be a relief to know that the first 48 hours without smoking are generally considered the most difficult. You’re likely wondering, what exactly is happening to my body on the second day of quitting smoking? At this point, you’re working through the worst of nicotine withdrawal. Incredibly, your body has also begun healing itself in a number of surprising ways. This is just the beginning too — beyond the two day mark, your general health will continue to improve and your risk of developing life-threatening diseases lowers considerably. But for now, we’re going to deep dive into what the second day of quitting smoking entails and explain how you can push through any discomfort.
What Happens on the First Day of Quitting Smoking?
We know that cigarettes are linked to at least 39 different illnesses, including 19 types of cancer and 7 forms of cardiovascular disease.
However, smoking also causes a number of acute, day-to-day symptoms such as headaches, coughing, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell. One of the best things about quitting is that you’ll start to see the effects almost immediately. These acute symptoms begin to clear up very soon after your last cigarette.
Being aware of the positive changes occuring in your body can help you stick to your quitting plan. Your body goes into repair-mode on the first day you quit smoking, so you’re already on your way to improving your health and decreasing your risk of serious disease.
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20 Minutes: No Smoking
Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels. The circulaton in your hands and feet will also improve at this point.
12 Hours: No Smoking
After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your body reduce, and the oxygen levels in the blood return to normal. It really is that quick!
24 Hours: No Smoking
One day after quitting, your risk of heart attack has already decreased. This is because your blood pressure has now stabilised.
What Happens on the Second Day of Quitting Smoking?
On the second day of quitting smoking, you can expect some withdrawal symptoms to set in. We’ll take a closer look at them below, but it’s important to remember the progress you’ve made so far. Your body and brain are thanking you for it already.
48 Hours: No Smoking
At the two day mark, your body has almost completely rid itself of nicotine and carbon monoxide. Your blood pressure and heart rate have been stable for a day now, further reducing your likelihood of developing heart disease. Your blood is also healthier, receiving more oxygen and flowing easier through the body.
On day two, your lungs will begin functioning properly again. When you smoke, the chemicals in the cigarettes damage the cilia, which are the small hairlike structures that help to rid your lungs of dirt and mucus. After 48 hours without smoking, the cilia will regain movement and begin clearing the lungs of the harmful matter that has been building up there.
Your sense of taste and smell will also improve on the second day of quitting. Inhaling tobacco can numb your senses and damage the nerve endings in your mouth and nose, but after 48 hours smoke-free, these nerve endings begin to heal.
Nicotine Withdrawal in the First 2 Days
In the first two days after quitting, your body is likely to go into nicotine withdrawal. The severity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on how heavily you smoked, and whether you’re using nicotine replacement therapies or quitting cold turkey. Over time, your body has become used to receiving regular hits of nicotine. So, when you quit, your body goes into a state of withdrawal, which can result in an array of unpleasant symptoms
Nicotine withdrawal begins the moment you stop smoking, and symptoms gradually progress in the first two days after quitting. Your symptoms are likely to be the most intense 48 hours after your last cigarette. Most of the physical sensations will only last for around 72 hours, while the psychological symptoms can last up to two to four weeks. All symptoms will reduce in severity over time, and eventually disappear completely.
Withdrawal Symptoms on the Second Day of Quitting
Your withdrawal symptoms may present both physically and psychologically.
- You May Have A Cough – It’s very normal for asthma-like symptoms to appear within the first two days of quitting. As mentioned, your lungs are working hard to clear out any debris that has settled there. Ensure you cough when you can rather than holding it in.
- You may feel irritable – Because you are accustomed to easing restlessness through smoking, you are likely to notice an increase in irritability when you quit. Avoid excessive caffeine where you can, as your body will absorb twice as much caffeine as it did when you were smoking.
- You may feel hungrier – Nicotine reduces your appetite while increasing your metabolism, which is why many people lose weight while smoking. When you stop smoking, your metabolism will return to normal and you’ll likely feel hungrier.
- You may struggle to sleep – Nicotine withdrawal can cause sleeplessness. It can be beneficial to establish a bedtime routine. This may include meditating or reading before bed, journaling, and avoiding screens right before bed.
- You may experience intense cravings – On the second day of quitting, your cravings are likely to be at their most intense. They come appear in waves, lasting about 10 minutes before subsiding again. Remember, these cravings will reduce in the coming days and weeks.
- You might feel anxious or depressed – Research shows that people who have suffered from mental illnesses are more likely to smoke. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, you may find that these symptoms worsen tempoararily when you quit. Be sure to check in with your doctor if you notice this occurring.
- You might feel moody – It’s common to feel angry, moody, and stressed during this initial quitting period. These feelings are completely normal; try to remind yourself that you are on the path to recovery.
- You may be distracted – It can be hard to focus on anything other than smoking in the first two days after quitting. This is very common. Go easy on yourself and remember that you will regain your focus once your cravings subside.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms in the First 2 Days
There are a few things you can do to make this initial period of withdrawal more manageable.
- Build up a support network – Notify trusted friends, family, and your doctor of your plans to quit. You may need a little bit of motivation or an ear to vent your frustrations too. A good support network can help to keep you busy during this time, and keep an eye out for signs of anxiety or depression, should they arise.
- Consider assistance – You don’t have to quit cold turkey, particularly if this hasn’t worked for you in the past. You may want to try quitting with the assistance of Nicotine Replacement Therapies, Pharmacotherapies, or Prescribed Nicotine Vaping products. These tools can help you to taper off nicotine and prevent relapse.
- Get into a routine – Map out your day and include replacement activities or rituals for the times when you would have smoked. For example, instead of smoking at 10am, you might go for a walk, call a friend, or have a healthy snack.
- Relax and unwind – Meditating, journaling, and implementing self-care activities can help to ease anxiety and irritability. It can also help to practice some deep belly breathing. Talking to a mental health care professional is also a great idea. They will be able to provide you with tailored tools to help you through.
- Listen to music or watch TV – Sometimes meditating can actually amplify your thoughts about smoking. If you’re struggling with the above relaxation activities, try distracting yourself instead by listening to music or watching your favourite TV show.
There are many more effective strategies you can implement to help you quit smoking. Not sure where to start? You can book a free, bulk-billed telehealth consultation with a trained professional who can guide you on your journey to quitting.
A Final Word
On the second day of quitting smoking, it’s completely normal to experience a range of unpleasant and bothersome withdrawal symptoms. At the two day mark, these symptoms will be at their most intense. Go easy on yourself and ensure you’re communicating how you’re feeling with loved ones or a doctor.
Remember, while these first 48 hours without smoking may be tough, you have already done your body a world a good. You’ve decreased your risk of a heart attack, and the important systems in your body are beginning to function normally again. You’re already well on your way to leading a healthier life.