Ex-Smokers Develop Mouth Ulcers, Colds

Temporary Symptoms May Cause Some to Relapse

From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 24, 2003 -- Smokers are likely to develop mouth ulcers and cold symptoms for up to two weeks after quitting. This problem, which researchers say is temporary, may be one reason so many succumb to nicotine's urges.

But if smokers trying to quit can hang on, all symptoms seem to be gone after six weeks, according to new research. The study is published in the February issue of Tobacco Control.

Researchers followed the progress of 174 smokers wanting to quit. The smokers went through a seven-week smoking cessation program combining behavior support with nicotine patches.

After weeks one and two, there were significant increases in mouth ulcers and cold symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, and sore throats. It was during this time, according to researchers, that people were more likely to have setbacks. Slightly less than half the participants managed to resist temptation for the entire six weeks of the study.

The researchers say that mouth ulcers may be caused by the loss of antibacterial properties of smoking while an increase in cold symptoms may be due to a loss of natural antibodies in the saliva.

Michael Ussher, MD, and colleagues, conclude that more research is needed to determine if cold symptoms and mouth ulcers persist beyond two weeks after quitting.

Being psychologically prepared for these effects may improve smokers' odds of quitting, they say.

SOURCE: Tobacco Control, February 2003.

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