London, Feb. 24 (Reuters): Smokers who are trying to quit may suffer from cold symptoms and mouth ulcers in the first weeks after giving up the habit, doctors warned today.
But they said people trying to stop smoking should not be discouraged and reach for a cigarette because the symptoms will pass.
“This study is the first to provide clear evidence for an increase in reports of cold symptoms and mouth ulcers following smoking cessation,” Michael Ussher of St George’s Hospital Medical School in London said.
He and his colleagues believe smokers should be aware of what to expect when they quit so they persevere and do not resume smoking.
“Being psychologically prepared for these effects may reduce their impact on the attempt to stop smoking,” Ussher added in a report in the journal Tobacco Control.
In a study of nearly 200 smokers who were trying to quit, about a third developed symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, fever, chill, headache, runny nose or mouth ulcers.
Ussher believes the symptoms, which disappeared by six weeks after quitting, are due to a temporary depression in the body’s immune function after kicking the habit.
Mouth ulcers could also be related to the loss of the antibacterial effect of smoking, they added.
Smoking is linked to an increased risk of cancers, particularly lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema. Medical experts have warned that half of all people who smoke will be killed by a tobacco-related disease and a quarter will die in middle age.
Ussher said smokers trying to quit who have realistic expectations are more likely to be successful in kicking the habit.