Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why does my health get worse before it gets better when I quit smoking for awhile?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy does my health get worse before it gets better when I quit smoking for awhile?


I am 36 years old and have smoked since I was twelve. I have tried patches, gum and even Chantix to help me quit. However every time I try to quit, I get violently ill for about 1-2 weeks. How can I avoid getting sick and still quit smoking?


First, I want to commend you for your attempts at quitting smoking. If you are successful, your later years will not be as likely to be fraught with hospitalizations for emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer that I see every day. I wish you would have been more specific about your symptoms that you get when you try to quite smoking, that way I could give you more information on ways to avoid those symptoms. I can only assume that these symptoms you are experiencing are nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from tremors, sweating, nervousness, have a short temper, and extreme cravings. They can be severe enough that you can feel violently ill. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can discuss these symptoms and determine if they are in fact symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. If they are, then you can discuss which (if any) of the medications you mentioned in your question have helped your symptoms. You may benefit from more than one of these options. I would be interested to see if you respond to taking Wellbutrin, a non-nicotine medication which can reduce withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. I wish you the best of luck quitting.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.