Nicotine is a chemical compound that is present in tobacco. When tobacco is smoked, nicotine is absorbed through the wall lining of the small air sacs in the lungs. While by sniffing or chewing tobacco, it is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the nose or mouth. Nicotine can also be absorbed through the skin.
Regardless of type of carrier of nicotine into body, it enters the bloodstream where it circulates throughout the body and travels to the brain where it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, it binds to and activates receptors called the cholinergic receptors. These cholinergic receptors are present in the brain as well as in other areas such as the muscles, heart, adrenal glands and other vital organs. These receptors are activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is produced at nerve endings in the brain and in the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. The actions of acetylcholine help to maintain healthy respiration, heart function, muscle movement and cognitive functions such as memory.
Now you may think that why I am describing the functions of acetylcholine while discussing nicotine? The reason is that nicotine has a similar structure to acetylcholine, it can activate the cholinergic receptors. The only difference between acetylcholine and nicotine is that later enters the brain and disrupts its normal functioning. Regular smoking leads to a change in the number of cholinergic receptors and to changes in their sensitivity to nicotine.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms and Tips
By smoking regularly, smoker develops nicotine tolerance. Now, the affected person needs to use nicotine regularly to maintain normal brain function. If the level of nicotine falls, the smoker may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
For tobacco users trying to quit, symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine are unpleasant and stressful, but only temporary. Most withdrawal symptoms peak 48 hours after you quit and are completely gone in six months.
Withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as four hours after the last cigarette, generally peak in intensity at three to five days, and disappear after two weeks. They include both physical and mental symptoms. Following are the most common withdrawal symptoms of Nicotine:
- Smoker feels anxieties.
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Intestinal disorders like cramps, nausea, headache
- Cold symptoms including sore throats, coughing, and other signs of colds and respiratory problem.
- Insomnia, mental confusion, irritability and depression are the most common in the short and long term.
- Feelings of being an infant such as temper tantrums, intense needs, feelings of dependency, a state of near paralysis.
- Constipation is caused by intestinal movement decreases for a brief period. It will normally last for several weeks.
- Anger apparently peaks for the average quitter at about 48 hours and within 72 hours is beginning to return to almost pre-cessation levels.
Tips to diminish the withdrawal symptoms
Following simple and easy to do tips may help:
- Deep breathing with mind relaxation, together with a bit of physical activity, can help diminish anxieties.
- Adjustment of caffeine intake and limiting sugars can also have a calming effect.
- Acidic fruit juices, like cranberry, may help accelerate extraction of the blood’s remaining nicotine.
- Walk, run, find a punching bag or bend a piece of steel may give some relief.
- Try enjoying your favorite activity, sport or hobby.
- Show yourself courage as you break free from years of slavery to the dictates of your master.
- While experiencing symptoms of recovery, it’s really helpful to remind yourself of why you are quitting.
- Try new things. Keep your hands and mind busy by doing different things like cooking, painting, do carpentry, knitting, gardening, sewing etc.
- Remind yourself that whatever discomfort you are experiencing is only a tiny fraction of the probable discomfort associated with continued smoking i.e. Painful diseases like cancer, surgery, chemotherapy etc.
How Long Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Be careful, take precautions and don’t work to hard because it may take bit long till the symptoms completely diminished.
1 – 5 days
You as a quitter may experience in first 5 days like coughing, tight chest, nose running, sore throat as the body’s respiratory system begins to clean itself.
1 – 2 weeks
Till two weeks after quitting, flatulence and constipation due to temporary slowing of intestinal movement may occur. In addition you may experience headaches due to increased blood flow, irritability, reduced concentration and fatigue.