Stopped smoking, breathing worse than... - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation

48,365 members57,519 posts

Stopped smoking, breathing worse than ever

Susiedee profile image

I stopped smoking in mid November. My breathing is so bad, I can barely walk from room to room. I'm using Champix which helped me stop before (stupidly, I started again after a particularly stressful time at work). I have spoken to my GP, my smoking support worker and my pharmacies, all of whom confirm no link between the breathlessness and Champix. I'm not sure it's worth it. I thought it would improve my breathing, not make it worse. Has anyone else had this problem when stopping smoking? I really don't want to smoke but I can't function like this.

21 Replies


My husband smoked for over 30 years. At first he felt terrible. After a few months he was tempted to resume smoking but resisted. He started to feel a bit more normal but still no better than when he was smoking.

However, he was getting better gradually without realising it. We were out with one of our grandsons when my husband suddenly realised he had walked for miles, kicked a ball around and was still going strong after a long day!

Do carry on with your efforts to give up smoking, there are lots of long term benefits xxx

Susiedee profile image
Susiedee in reply to wheezyof

Thank you. So pleased that your husband has managed to stay smoke free. I am determined to stop - I'm enjoying having some money for once! Perhaps I just picked the wrong time of year 😃

Hi strange as it may sound smoking has a sophoric effect on the lungs so when you stop you may find it harder to breathe. Hopefully this will equal itself out after a time.

I will say though that I am mild and only stopped smoking last year after 44 years and my breathing has got and stayed worse. I am on the quit smoking site on here so I recommend you have a chat with them. Someone on there reminded me that could I really expect to stop smoking after so long and get away with it scot free? That made me think. For me now it's more a case of damage limitation rather than benefits, but the important thing is stopping now deceases the chances of ending up on oxygen and getting lung cancer. If you wait until smoking gives you up then you haven't got long left!

I also found that smoking can mask or even cause organ damage and I now have a borderline under active thyroid which is quite common in smokers. I know it doesn't seem like it now but you have done the best thing you could do by giving up and that means a lot coming from a heavily addicted smoker like I was who carried on for 9 years after diagnosis. It was fear that made me stop and keeps me stopped. x

Susiedee profile image
Susiedee in reply to hypercat54

Thanks for sharing your story with me. I think I probably expected it to be instant rather than a gradual improvement. How right you are about getting away Scot free. Never thought of it like that. Thanks again, these replies have really helped 😊

hypercat54 profile image
hypercat54 in reply to Susiedee

Well like I said someone on the smoking site said that to me which certainly made me stop and think. Coping with the fall out has been a lot easier because of realising this and I hope it will help you as much. x

CLARAmay profile image
CLARAmay in reply to Susiedee

Hi I thought what is wrong with me, I didn’t realise we all get the same side effects get worse before better honestly anyone who’s listening I thought I was left with really bad copd but it’s taken me 11 months of coughing up black tar for my breathing to get better I’m so surprised. Does anyone have an inhaler?

Wait till you get your taste buds back! After I quit smoking(it took a while) I started tasting how great food tastes! I never knew that! YUM!!! Janet127

CLARAmay profile image
CLARAmay in reply to JANET127

Hi Janet, that’s so true, food tastes yum

iceoteck profile image
iceoteck in reply to JANET127

How long before for taste buds to get bk to normal coffee sometimes taste yuk how long does it take 5 months nearly no smokes

One of the many secret chemicals that cigarettes contain includes a type of bronchodilator - so that despite all the damage cigarettes cause, there is also something sneaky included that opens up the tiny airways.

Once you stop using cigarettes, the airways often become inflamed, and that bronchodilator isn’t there to do its job anymore.

It may be that your airways recover to where they had been, or you may have a level of permanent inflammation or tissue damage after all the irritants in the inhaled smoke.

I would ask the GP or consultant if you can try an additional or different medication to help you in your present situation. You really don’t need to be struggling as you are. It may be that you can reduce or change medication later, or you may find that is what you need now.

I didn’t have any obvious breathing difficulties until I stopped smoking whilst suffering dreadful flu a few years back. As I recovered, my breathing worsened. Some tests later and I was diagnosed initially with post-viral cough, then asthma, then COPD as I had been a smoker of many years with no history of asthma. My meds (Montelukast, Fexofenadine, Avamys, and inhaled DuoResp Spiromaxand Braltus) have helped, but I still have a degree of breathlessness on exertion, and I’m very irritated by woodsmoke and some other inhaled substances - so that twitchy airway irritation is sadly permanent. As someone else has said, you don’t tend to get away with smoking for a time without some level of damage, some of us worse than others.

But please try to stay off the cigarettes - whilst you may feel frustrated with the latest developments, long term you really would do much worse damage by continuing to smoke, and you will have slowed down the decline in your lung tissue damage. Plus the freedom of not having to smoke, the cost and the smell! Good luck 🤞

Bravo👏👏you are my HERO! You can do it! I know it’s terrible right now🤚I swear I know: I couldn’t breath, couldn’t hardly eat or drink between the coughing and gasping for air, I was miserable couldn’t even push the cart down the aisle for a loaf of bread. Your body’s in shock give it a little bit to figure it out and I promise what you’re going through now will pass. Unless a doctor has told you differently cuz I’m not one. But a health science major and fitness specialist and knew better than to smoke but I really did love it AND I loved being healthy and fit until that day when I wasn’t. It’ll get better give it a chance and if it doesn’t get better in a year don’t fret cigarette companies will still be selling the coffin nails and you can go get more but love yourself enough to quit before you get something much more frightening than withdrawals from nicotine. Most of us wish we could go back in our time machines back to that first cigarette experience and say”oh no thank you I DONT SMOKE” but we didn’t and lots of people here have Emphysema, lung transplants then all of us with varying degrees of CoPD. Life is good without cigarettes: my blouses smell fresh and clean much longer, people like to kiss me, mainly my husband who quit like 27 yrs ago, myself in 2012. My skin is really happy I no longer smoke. My whole body is happy about it. The only thing that’s ever gotten in the way was my mind. Every so often I think I can cheat and have just ONE-that never worked so I am proud and feel comfortable saying” I am non smoker” you will be too. Try black licorice, cinnamon hard candy and above all else don’t give up you can do it-congratulations on trying to save your own life! As much as we know as human beings and how bad cigarettes are for us it’s amazing that we wanna do it anyway but we can be better👍Hang in there baby

I gave up using Champix 11 years ago and have never touched or wanted another cigarette since .Champix shouldn't make you breathless it's the getting better that is doing that .It will pass but you must persist with not smoking .You will feel better eventually .

Much love Babs xxx

December 16th 1981 was the day I had my last cigarette! Giving up my 30+ a day habit must be the hardest thing I've ever done and I must say, the first year was pure torture. The only way to stop in those days was to go 'cold turkey' and it really affected my daily ife in so many ways. I developed a hacking cough and could barely speak for the first month or so as my voice almost disappeared. It seemed that virtually every task I performed involved having a cigarette on the side - having a cup of tea or coffee, doing the ironing, driving the car, doing the housework; and of course the last course of every single meal had to be a cigarette! I must have been an absolute nightmare to live with as basically all I could think about was me and wanting a cigarette! It was so very hard but somehow I got through, it one day at a time. I have never touched a cigarette since - I just wouldn't dare. But how glad I am that I did that all those years ago. I'm definitely not a person strong on willpower, so if I can do it anyone can. Sadly, since those days, I've seen close hand what smoking can do. My divorced first husband never gave it up, and he died aged 69 with COPD/emphysema. Ironically my second husband also now has the same condition. It is very severe now, but I know he would not be with us now had he not stopped smoking when it was first diagnosed 13 years ago. So Susiedee, you are doing a fantastic job, give yourself a huge pat on the back. Every single day you get through without a cigarette will lengthen and enhance your life, even though it may not feel like it at the time. You CAN and WILL function - you are an EX smoker! You're not alone - all us ex smokers are thinking and feeling for you with hope and love. x

As I recall my breathing was worse after quitting, I found warm drinks helpedbut its a long time since I gave up there maybe othere things you can try. Best of luck.

Hi just to let you know that I alsway was doing well on theses things for smoking. Was only on them for 3weeks and stop taken them have now had 2 chest infection. And. Like wise haven problems with breathing. Hope u fell better soon.

Oh yes I was worse in my breathing before i improved. It’s been 5 years now. I can’t say I don’t think of it cause I do, but I would never go back to smoking. My breathing is bad but then my Copd has progressed but I stay positive and do as much as I can. I do believe that if had still been smoking I wouldn’t be here now. 40 odd years of smoking had done its damage.

Please don’t give up, you will reap the benefits.

Stay positive it’s just your body clearing out all that bad stuff, makes you feel worse.

I can only repeat what I have posted on here dozens of times. I was diagnosed with asthma in 2002 and continued to smoke even though I was blue-lighted into hospital for oxygen and warned to pack in; having just lost my husband I seemed not to care. Asthma sort of morphed into COPD by 2010 and I really needed to end my 60+ year pack a day habit. I had managed "breaks" of a year and 2 years but always went back - blaming "stress" of course. I acquired an e-cig on 28th January 2010, they were horrendously expensive back then and very primitive but I had found the Holy Grail - a viable alternative to smoking. It is coming up to nine years since I smoked my last cigarette, in a letter to a cardiologist my doctor described me as "a mild asthmatic" no mention of COPD and I have just one inhaler, Fostair, which deals with asthma very well. You know you have to stop smoking if you want any quality of life, or possibly life itself; I can only tell you my experience of quitting with no discomfort or withdrawal symptoms as it may help you, which way you decide to do it is entirely up to you but vaping replaces all the sensations of smoking with a 95% safer alternative and has been endorsed by Public Health England and most Cancer charities. Give it thought. And very good luck to you.


Hi, giving up the cigs is always difficult, the after effects can be quite severe and can last for a number of months/years. However at the end when you have beaten the habit your lungs will thank you. It may seem a bit futile at the moment and you are wondering why you thought you would feel so much better. Don't backslide keep on, believe me it may be the difference between having a treatment and not, it's not worth the gamble stay strong.

Many people on this site stopped after the damage was done don't be the one that joins them. Realising the damage continuance may cost you, time for the frightener, lungs don't mend easily if at all, once the damage has been caused you cannot put it right you then have the problems for the rest of your life, unfortunately I have to turn to stem cell which is still a bit of an unknown.


Google breathing exercise....they help me....

Just about to enter month 5 of no smoking. Wish I could say I feel great but I still don't. Champix is a distant memory now so I don't believe it was to blame for the complete breathlessness I still have. I know that I can expect to feel rough for a while, I did after all smoke 8-10 cigarettes a day for some 40 years. I'd just like to feel even slightly better so I know it's worthwhile! I have an appointment with the respiratory nurse on Tuesday coming and maybe change my Trelegy Ellipta back to Incruse. I'm desperate to go shopping with my new found wealth 😅

Please try to hang in there....I smoked for 35 years before I finally quit...i now have emphysema...which is horrible and wish every single day that I had quit years can do this!

You may also like...