Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking: How Long Does It Last?


Beating smoking addiction is undoubtedly a challenging feat. (1) There’s a reason that so many are unable to resist the cravings and succumb to temptation. Usually, people blame withdrawal symptoms for their weakening resolve. And one of the most common withdrawal symptoms is a sore throat. Why does sore throat occur after quitting smoking, and how long does it last?

Sore throat after quitting smoking happens as the body undergoes the transition of quitting nicotine. Your lung starts clearing out the mucus and other debris accumulated from smoking. Usually, the symptoms resolve within a couple of weeks but sometimes can take up to a month too.

But is there any way to reduce the discomfort? Can you prevent a sore throat from quitting smoking? What’s the story behind it? Let’s reveal it all.

Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking: What You Should Know

It’s a common perception among smokers that they will recover from the withdrawal symptoms within a couple of days of quitting smoking. And when that does not happen, they are enticed to pick up a cigarette again.

Let’s be clear. Your life won’t be bright and sparkly the next day after quitting smoking. It will take some time. Your body has to get accustomed to functioning without the regular dose of nicotine. (2)

Therefore, you have to be prepared to deal with the withdrawal symptoms for at least a couple of weeks after giving up smoking.
And now, let’s talk about sore throat after quitting smoking or, as it’s commonly called, smoker’s flu.

When you quit smoking, your body starts the repairing process of the damages it endured due to years of smoking. (3) Naturally, you can’t expect such extensive damage to be repaired overnight.

Tobacco in cigarettes harms your cardiovascular system. The respiratory tract starts shrinking due to smoking, releasing the sputum.

Smoking sore throat is a normal phase, and it’s your body notifying you that it’s working on repairing various parts by itself. At this time, your determination and perseverance will come in handy.

Don’t let your resolve weaken during these couple of weeks, and you will successfully give up smoking for good.

What Causes A Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking?

It is crucial to find out the reason for throat problems after quitting smoking. If you do not eliminate the source of pain in the throat after quitting smoking, all subsequent treatment will be in vain. Nothing will provide you with much-needed comfort during this time.

People who don’t smoke have cilia in the mucus membrane of their respiratory tract. Cilia are responsible for expelling the garbage and debris from your system via the ciliary action. However, nicotine paralyzes the cilia. (4) Hence, the toxins get accumulated in the system of smokers, harming all the organs, including the nervous system. It’s the respiratory system that bears the brunt first.

When your body starts the recovery process after quitting smoking, its first step is to get rid of the garbage. Hence, your lungs begin to expel the debris and mucus accumulated due to years of smoking.

This mucus reaches your throat, causing a throat infection. Once the cleansing of your body is completed, the symptoms resolve spontaneously.

Another cause of a smoker’s sore throat is the irritation of the mucus membrane. Tobacco smoke contains a lot of harmful substances. These substances get into the oral cavity, pass through the upper respiratory tract, and settle on their surface.

Under the influence of toxins accumulated over time, the mucous membrane of the throat becomes inflamed. It leads to a persistent sore throat after quitting smoking. (5)

The sore throat can also be attributed to the psychosomatic effect due to stress. (6) In this case, the residual effect of nicotine on the central nervous system is manifested.

Keep in mind that sometimes the sore throat can also be a sign of an underlying problem, throat or larynx cancer. Statistics have proven that smokers are more prone to develop oncological diseases compared to non-smokers. (7)

Therefore, if your symptoms persist, it’s best to consult a doctor at the earliest for a complete examination to commence adequate treatment timely.

How To Prevent Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking?

If you don’t want to experience the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking, it’s best to gradually reduce the amount you smoke instead of giving it up abruptly.

CDC recommends nicotine replacement therapy to reduce withdrawal symptoms. (8) You can use patches, sprays, or even chewing gums containing nicotine. Wean yourself onto lower doses gradually. Your body will adjust to this change slowly. Hence, when you quit smoking entirely, you won’t have to undergo the transition suddenly.

Keep in mind that you still might experience a cough after quitting smoking. This happens as the cilia begin clearing the lungs. However, your symptoms won’t be as severe.

How To Get Rid Of Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking?

Sore throat after quitting smoking can cause significant discomfort.

Here are some things you can do to get relief.

  • Breathe through your nose to prevent hypothermia of the mucosa.
  • Drink 2-2.5 liters of fluid per day to prevent dry throat
  • Abstain from spicy and sour food. This helps restore the mucous membrane of the throat.
  • Reduce the level of emotional and psychological stress by creative mindfulness exercises.
  • Add more fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to your daily diet. A large number of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are necessary for the quick recovery of the body.
  • Eat fewer foods that contain a lot of salt

If the sore throat does not go away, consult a doctor. Only a specialist can determine the exact cause of the discomfort. By refusing medical care, you expose yourself to the risk of complications.

What Symptoms Should I Expect Along With A Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking?

Primary withdrawal symptoms of nicotine include headache, depression, and irritability. You might also experience

  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore gums
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • GI disturbances
  • Lack of focus

How Long Should I Wait Before Consulting A Doctor For A Sore Throat After Quitting Smoking?

Typically, the symptoms take two weeks to a month to settle down. It depends on how much recovery your body requires. However, if your pain persists or you feel extreme discomfort, consult a doctor to rule out other causes of sore throat.

Is It Common For Sore Mucus Throat After Quitting Smoking?

Yes, sore throat after quitting smoking is pretty common. It’s not particularly worrisome. However, if your symptoms worsen over time, consult a doctor.

Alyssa Bieler

Alyssa Bieler is a writer with a medical background, currently working for a county health department in Florida. She is a well-respected public health researcher on a variety of topics related to nutrition, wellness, and health.

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