Dealing with Chest Pain After Quitting Smoking

Woman holding chest

Quitting Smoking and Chest Pain

When it comes to kicking the habit, there are certain side effects that come along for the ride. Naturally, nicotine cravings will be the most obvious, however, there are many other smaller and equally aggravating symptoms that might make you question your decision to quit. But don’t worry, they will pass, and in as little as 20 minutes you’ll start to see the benefits of quitting smoking.

For instance, some people experience tightness or chest pain after quitting smoking, a worrying symptom that can easily lead to increased stress levels and even panic. However, usually, this type of discomfort is completely natural, and merely a sign that your body is recovering. The key to dealing with symptoms such as this is to recognise them as part of quitting and to try to relieve some of the stronger nicotine cravings you might experience.

What Causes Chest Pain After Stopping Smoking?

There are a number of reasons for chest pain after giving up smoking, and they can manifest themselves at various points along your journey to becoming smoke free. For instance, you may feel a tight chest after stopping smoking within the first few hours or even days. Very often, these can be attributed to tension in your muscles caused by nicotine cravings—subconsciously, your chest tightens as the drug leaves your system.

Another reason for chest pain after stopping smoking may appear after a few days or if you begin to cough. Coughing is usually associated with clearing your lungs of whatever has gathered there over the years, and if your coughing is particularly forceful, it can lead to over exertion of the muscles in your chest which may cause both pain and tightness in that area.

Both of these causes of chest pain are usually linked to what is sometimes known as “smoker’s flu”. While not contagious, smokers flu often exhibits similar symptoms to normal flu, with chest pain, headaches, a sore throat and coughing usually passing within a few days as the nicotine leaves your body.

How Can I Relieve Chest Tightness After Quitting Smoking?

Chest tightness after quitting smoking will resolve itself, however, it may take a few hours or even days, particularly if you pull a muscle in the chest area. Alleviating these types of symptom can also be achieved using nicotine replacements1 –allowing you to effectively manage withdrawal symptoms and avoid things like smoker’s flu and other associated symptoms.

Additionally, massaging the affected area, practicing breathing exercises, going for a walk or exercising to expel some of the tension, and making sure you get plenty of rest can also help to relieve pain and chest tightness after quitting smoking. Put simply, treating your body as kindly as possible during the withdrawal phase and avoiding a smoking relapse will make a big difference.

It is important to note that, if you continue to suffer chest pain or tightness for prolonged periods, then you should visit your GP. Additionally, if you feel chest pain or tightness in combination with shortness of breath, pain in the arm and neck, sweating or nausea, it is advisable to seek professional medical advice.

For more information on how NRT can mitigate smoker’s flu and chest pain after quitting smoking, speak to your pharmacist or contact the NHS stop smoking service. Finally, try not to let symptoms such as chest tightness or pain affect your motivation, after all you have the power to quit in your hands, and remaining smoke free is the best decision you’ll ever make.

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