Quit smoking and then you have trouble breathing!

Hi everyone,

I cannot believe this! I have read so many posts where people have quit smoking and then follows that they find it difficult to catch their breath, the feeling that you can’t get enough oxygen into your lungs. I am 41 years old and smoked for 17 years. I quit about 4 months ago and since then I have had episodes of where it feels like I can’t get enough oxygen into my lungs. Weirdly enough this happens more when I am talking on the telephone than any other time.

I was talking to someone today and they even asked me if I was having an asthma attack… I just don’t understand why this happens. I would think that your oxygen level would be greater. I know that it takes time for you body to heal, but I thought it would be getting better by now. I too wonder if it’s anxiety related, I don’t seem to be anxious at the time, but who knows.
Sorry, for rambling, it’s just that this was a very hard thing for me to do, I quit cold turkey and I have really struggled with not picking up a cigarette, and still have no intentions of ever doing so. I did gain about 20 pounds and developed pretty bad allergies. I have tried to think of every possible thing it could be.

I feel like sometimes that I was healthier when I smoked, and I know I wasn’t. I just want to get past this.

Thanks for listening, and if anyone has any opinions or comments please post them.

Thank you



Think you better see your doctor. I am a respiratory therapist by profession, and I think you might have some underlying problems that were masked by the nicotine from the cigarettes.

It has been my experience that anyone who quits smoking gets a “productive” cough because the heretofore nicotine- paralyzed cilia (hairlike projections in the trachea that move the pollutants out of the airways) have become active again. But I haven’t had any experience with anyone suddenly developing obstructive pulmonary disease from smoking cessation.

I defer to the doctors on the board to answer your question, but please keep in mind that they will not diagnose you on SDMB, only your private physician can do this.

Best Wishes and good onya for stopping the habit!


Oh, and may I extend a hearty Welcome to SDMB?


It is hard to believe, but sometimes people have asthma (or other respiratory problems) and don’t realize it until they quit smoking. Cigarettes have chemicals in them that actually open your bronchial tubes, much as an asthma inhaler does, so you get that rush of nicotene faster. So while smoking damages your lungs, it can temporarily make it easier to breathe (until the chemicals wear off, when you quit).

Or it could just be your lungs working the junk out. Either way, I’ve heard this happens to many ex-smokers. Follow Quasimodem’s advice and get yourself to a Dr. to check that things are ok.

And congratulations on quitting!

-Velma (who quit 9 months ago).

Let me third the advice to see your doctor.

Before I started smoking, I had allergy attacks that incapacitated me for a week. Haven’t really had one but I know it’s not worth the price.

Having tried and failed miserably to quit several times, please see your doctor so that this does not stand in your way of quitting successfully. It’s hard enough without having an excuse to go back.

I agree with Velma:

The smoking causes a decrease in air volume you can inhale, but the nicotine and some other elements in ciggies will cause bronchial passages to expand.

So, as long as you keep smoking the reduced lung capacity is mitigated by the elements in your smokes.

You cut out smoking and you’re just left with crappy lungs.

It WILL pass. Your body needs to expunge the damaged lung tissue and kick out as much of the carbon deposites in your lungs.

But as always, if you feel the need to post about it, it’s bothering you enough you should go see a doctor.

I smoke…AND I love it!

[sub][whisper]Psst! Ryan_Liam! The idea is to be supportive of people who have quit smoking, you see? Here, watch me:[/whisper][/sub]

Congratulations on quitting, Faith, and I’ll second the advice to see a doctor about this. It may be something relatively simple to take care of, but as pointed out above, quitting is tough enough without the feeling that it’s causing new problems.

And welcome to the boards.

Rock on Faith, keep up the good work! I quit cold turkey and YES it was difficult. But I had every reason to quit and only a good occasional feeling to stay smoking. Keep it up you’ll live longer.
[sub] Don’t listen to Ryan, it has obviously not dawned on him that saving himself from an exruciating lung cancer or lung disease is worth it…[/sub]

Hi and welcome, Faith: Another suggestion that you have this checked out.
Also remember, you smoked for 17 years. It will take more than a few months for the ill effects of smoking to go away. I had this same shortness of breath after quitting, but it had passed by the end of the third month. I’m on month number 18 now. Remember this: “I’d rather be a non-smoker with an occasional urge to smoke than a smoker with a constant urge to quit.”

Ryan_Liam: I read in another thread that you are 17 years old. Smoking sucks, and I hope you decide to drop the habit now, instead of wasting tens of thousands of dollars on smokes like I did before I quit.
You say you love smoking. I loved it too. The cigarettes were my best friend. They were a friend that stole my money, made me feel bad, smell bad, and placed me in unacceptable social and employmenmt situations. Eventually, that friend will kill you. He kills some sooner than others, but ol’ Nic kills all his friends eventually. Some friend, right?

Hi all! Congrats to everyone that has quit smoking!! I’m on day 33 and I feel like I’m having trouble breathing and feel tired all the time, but I understand it’s normal. I just told someone that I felt better when I smoked, which makes no sense. When I was smoking I was using breathing meds and some I am still using but not all so I know I’m getting better. Never give up. I’m using patches, nothing else worked for me. So glad I found this group!!

Cigarettes contain numerous chemical additives, including chocolate – yes, chocolate – which acts as a bronchodilator when burned. The better to get your fix with…

Smoked non filters for 40 years. I could actually stop a coughing fit by having a cigarette.

You could have mentioned that 14 years ago when the thread was new, you know.

Congrats to all the quitters! Someone once told me to never start, cause I wouldn’t be able to stop and I’m glad I listened! Would be interesting to hear if everyone’s been able to maintain their quitting status since it has been so long ago.

I paid absolutely NO attention to when the thread was started, saw people welcoming the thread starter, and thought they were a little late, cause she joined about that long ago…LOL

Boards have been around a long time when you know you can literally say what you did and it’s true. :smiley: