Update 2011: Please read the comments below — they are more informative & helpful than this original post I wrote over 6 years ago.
I quit smoking a few weeks ago.
I bought a pack of nicotine gum, which doesn’t taste like butt anymore… as I recall it did years ago. The gum did help the cravings.
I think the reason I was able to quit for real this time while failing at the 5 or so times in the past, was that this is the first time in my life that I don’t live with a smoker. I remember taking vacation a few years and never really craving a cigarette too badly, but as soon as I got home to my yellow nicotine coated walls… I needed a nic-fix.
Quitting was the easy part. Nic-fits and psychological cravings ceased to be powerful within just a couple days. A few days after my last peice of nicotine gum I started having severe hunger pains.
Online research told me that nicotine actually supplies your body with little sugar fixes…as smoking a cigarette releases stored sugars into your blood stream. This is why smokers often don’t need to eat until late afternoon without feeling hungry.
However, when you no longer have this artificial feeding of sugar into your bloodstream after quitting smoking your body can freak out a bit that it has to get sugar the old-fashion way. I had to learn how to eat breakfast and lunch again. It wasn’t too difficult to start eating 3 meals a day because I felt hungry, but my hunger pains were not going away with food … not even after eating a large meal.
These hunger pains soon turned into intense stomach cramps that I imagined would be what someone who is on the edge of dying from starvation would feel. The doc says its IBS… irritable bowel syndrome. Sounds awesome, eh?
Q. How did I, a relatively fit and healthy 26 year old woman get a disease that sounds like something only old men named Chuck or Ron in a nursing home would have?
A. Mostly from quitting smoking. The shock to my digestive system from the sudden lack of lovely cigarette chemicals and general body stress is what the doc explained as to reason for my IBS.
The doc prescribed some little pills that stop the stomach cramps but make me sleepy in a happy/stupid kind of way :D
A diet of fruit and veggies seems to have helped and I think I am on the verge of getting rid of the IBS and getting back to normal.
You might be wondering why I wrote this? The reason is that I could not find anything online about a connection between IBS and quitting smoking, although the way my doctor explained things…it sounded like it’s a somewhat common occurance.
And for those of you that stumbled upon this post from a search engine, I feel ya, really… and don’t worry… it will pass. :)
Update 2011 PS: IBS is what doctors say you have when they don’t know what else is wrong with you. IBS is not a disease. It is a set of symptoms. Don’t feel like a “victim of disease” when you get diagnosed with IBS. <– totally my own opinion, I am not a medical professional.