Nosebleeds are not a common symptom of disease. Contrary to what Hollywood has taught us, they are not a direct symptom of stress and anxiety and while they can appear in some cancers, they are far from the only symptom. But what about withdrawal?
There have been a few anecdotal reports of nosebleeds in people who quit smoking, so what does the science say and what could be causing these symptoms?
Can Quitting Smoking Cause Nosebleeds?
You won't find nosebleeds on a list of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, but that doesn't mean it's not a problem.
Nosebleeds are often caused by damage to the delicate nasal passages. The blood vessels in your nose are very fragile. If they become damaged, whether through nose picking, trauma, nose blowing, or irritants (including tobacco smoke), they can rupture and bleed.
These bleeds are often worsened by high blood pressure, which could be triggered by chronic tobacco use followed by a cold turkey withdrawal. However, they would still need that initial trigger.
Some of the most common side effects of quitting smoking include nervousness, irritability, and stress, and this is where the issue could lie.
When we're stressed, we tend to adopt harmful habits, including hair eating, scab picking, and nose picking. You may not even realize you’re doing it, but if you're spending more time digging around in your nose as a result of stress and anxiety, that could be causing your frequent nosebleeds.
Headaches are also a known trigger for nosebleeds and they are one of the most common withdrawal symptoms, as well as the one that appears before any other.
Chronic nose blowing and sneezing could also increase the risk and you may experience these withdrawal symptoms when you go cold turkey and your body begins to rebel.
So, while you won't see nosebleeds listed as a nicotine withdrawal symptom, they could be triggered indirectly.
Other Side Effects of Smoking Cessation
If abstinence was as easy as stubbing out the cigarettes, putting down the drink, and walking away, there would be no such thing as addiction. People aren't addicted because they don't know better and they don't relapse because they have nothing better to do.
Addictions are tough because they create physical and psychological dependence; they lock users into a self-destructive cycle and threaten them with withdrawal symptoms when they decide to quit.
Nicotine doesn't produce as many problematic withdrawal symptoms as other substances, but they still exist and they are far from pleasant. Everyone reacts differently and the amount that you smoke, along with the length of time you have been a smoker, will impact how severe the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are.
Some of the side effects that you can expect when you quit smoking include:
- Weight Gain
- Trouble Sleeping
- Inability to Concentrate
You can use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to combat some of these side effects, but you may still experience some withdrawal symptoms, as well as side effects such as dizziness and headaches.
On the plus side, while tobacco withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, they are far from life-threatening and usually disappear in just a few days. The psychological and physiological symptoms are nowhere near as bad as other addictive drugs and the cravings are often the thing that people struggle with the most when quitting smoking.
How Does Being a Smoker Affect Your Health?
As scary as it is to quit smoking and experience the aforementioned side effects, the alternative is much worse. Smokers die younger and experience many more health problems.
Smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and other cancers. They are more likely to have a heart attack, experience reduced lung function, and develop issues such as COPD and high blood pressure.
It's never too early to stop and there is no such thing as being immune. Just because you smoked daily for several decades doesn't mean that you can continue doing so without issue.