Quitting smoking could be the best thing you can do to improve your tinnitus symptoms. Learn what to expect and the best methods for success.
Many studies prove there’s a strong connection between smoking, vaping and tinnitus.
Knowing what is causing your tinnitus is an important first step to getting relief from the ringing in your ears.
Until a true cure for tinnitus is found, making lifestyle changes to ease your tinnitus might be the best remedy.
The decision to quit smoking is not an easy one but research shows that most adult smokers want to quit.
Nearly 70% of smokers said they want to quit smoking and more than half (55%) said they tried to quit in the past year.
These same stats report that only 4% to 8% of people who try to quit smoking are successful.
However, several studies prove that the overall quality of life is greatly improved for those who quit smoking.
And the health benefits start to add up as quickly as 20 minutes from the time of your final cigarette.
Once you’ve decided you want to quit smoking, this article will help make your journey to a smoke-free life as easy as possible.
Below you’ll learn:
- The 4 steps to prepare for quitting
- 4 things to expect when quitting
- The 5 traditional ways to quit smoking
- 8 alternative methods for quitting
- 3 things you can do if you relapse
Using these tips and knowing what to expect will go a long way in helping you curb your urge to light up.
And hopefully bring you the tinnitus relief you are searching for.
Preparing To Quit
After deciding that you will quit smoking you need to prepare yourself for the day you will cut the nicotine out.
Within the first 3 months of quitting most people relapse.
Preparing in advance and creating a solid plan will help you avoid relapsing.
This plan addresses things you can expect and what to do to manage cravings and triggers.
1. Develop A Plan
When developing your plan for quitting you need to think about the following:
- How you will manage cravings.
- What are your smoking triggers.
- How will you manage your weight.
- Keeping a journal to detail your cravings.
2. Use The START Framework
- Set a date to stop.
- Tell friends, family and coworkers that you plan on quitting.
- Anticipate and plan for the challenges that you will face when you stop.
- Remove all tobacco products and cigarettes, including odors from your home, car and work.
- Talk to your doctor about prescription medications to help ease the withdrawal symptoms, such as inhalers or nasal sprays.
3. Smoking Cessation Programs
Cessation programs typically combine medication and counseling or support groups to help you stop.
These programs have a success rate of 45% of participants who manage to stop.
These programs help you deal with your addiction and cravings.
4. Register For Free Apps And Programs
In the U.S. there are many free resources to help you when you’re ready to quit.
Some of the most popular ones are:
- SmokefreeTXT: Sign up to receive text messages that will help you quit smoking.
- quitSTART: Free app that helps you keep on track, manage cravings, distract yourself with games and provides helpful tips.
- 800-QUIT-NOW: Call this free phone number to connect with a counselor specifically trained to help you quit smoking.
What To Expect
When you quit any type of addictive habit, there are always withdrawals.
Whether they are physical or psychological, these withdrawals can tempt you to relapse.
Knowing what the withdrawals of quitting are will help you prepare with ways to handle them when they happen to you.
1. Dealing With Withdrawals
Nicotine is flushed from your body 72 hours after your last cigarette.
This is when your withdrawal symptoms will hit their peak.
They typically ease off after 1-3 months depending on how heavy of a smoker you were.
Here are some withdrawal symptoms that you can expect:
- Increased appetite
- Upset stomach
- Cravings for nicotine
When you experience withdrawals, you will (obviously) want to grab a cigarette and light up.
So, plan ahead so that you have ways to fight the withdrawal symptoms.
2. Managing Cravings
Here are some tips that you can use when you experience withdrawals or cravings:
- Take a walk
- Start relaxing exercise techniques such as yoga or meditation
- Join a support group
- Talk to your therapist
- Chew a piece of gum or suck on a lozenge
- Get enough restful sleep to help your body detox
3. Common Triggers
Here are some examples of what can trigger you to light up a cigarette:
- After a meal
- When you are stressed
- While drinking alcohol
- When you are around other smokers
- With your coffee
Take time to write out your triggers before you quit.
Once you have them written out, you can plan what you will do when you’re triggered as you begin your quitting journey.
4. Handling Weight Gain
Most former smokers say that after they quit they craved something sweet.
This explains one reason why people pack on the pounds when they cut out cigarettes.
Another reason weight gain and quitting go hand-in-hand is because nicotine is a known appetite suppressant.
Some ways to deal with your increased appetite are to:
- Avoid sugary foods
- Choose fruits or vegetables when you need to snack
- Drink more water
- Start exercising
- Find something else to do to keep your mind off of eating
- Keep nutritious snacks close by
Some healthy snack options are nuts, seeds, natural yogurt or small portions of crackers and cheese.
If you keep the healthy snacks accessible, in small portions and only reach for them after drinking a big glass of water, it’ll keep you from consuming too many calories.
Traditional Ways To Quit
There are several routes that you can take to quit smoking.
The route that works best for you will depend on how long you have been smoking and how much you smoke.
The most common ways to quit smoking are:
- Going cold turkey
- Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
- Non-nicotine smoke cessation aids
- Tapering down
- Combining multiple methods for success
Below are the details for each of these methods.
1. Cold Turkey
Quitting right away, without tapering down, is called quitting cold turkey.
The best way to quit cold turkey is to set a date to quit smoking.
Pick a day within the next two weeks so that you don’t back out or lose motivation.
When you quit cold turkey, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.
Over the next two weeks keep a journal logging:
- When you are craving cigarettes and what that feels like
- What triggers you to smoke (waking up, while driving or drinking, with supper, etc.)
- Number of cigarettes smoked
- How you felt before lighting up a cigarette
When the quit date arrives:
- Refrain from smoking
- Stay active and busy
- Avoid places and situations that create triggers for you
- Remember to drink a lot of water
- Practice deep breathing exercises
2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is used to help you wean off of nicotine, by slowly dispersing bursts of nicotine to control your cravings.
There are 5 types of FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy (the common names of a few brands are written here, too):
- Chewing gum (Nicorette)
- Lozenges (Commit)
- Nasal spray (Nicotrol)
- Inhaler (Nicotrol)
- Nicotine patches (Nicoderm, Nicotrol, Prostep, Habitrol)
The use of NRTs is usually combined with other methods of quitting.
Some of these methods require a prescription from your doctor.
3. Non-Nicotine Smoke Cessation Aids
Your doctor might suggest a non-nicotine smoke cessation aid to help you quit smoking.
Two main types of non-nicotine smoke cessation aids commonly prescribed are bupropion and varenicline.
Sold under the brand names Wellbutrin and Zyban (among others), the antidepressant bupropion relieves the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and cuts down nicotine cravings.
Research shows that bupropion has similar success as using NRTs but is less effective than taking varenicline.
Varenicline specifically targets nicotine addiction and is sold as Champix, Chantix and other brands.
It reduces cravings for cigarettes and other tobacco products and makes them seem less pleasurable.
Studies have shown that short-term success (being quit between one week and six months) is higher with varenicline than with bupropion.
But long-term success (being quit for one year or longer) has almost the same outcome for both medications with an approximate 20% success rate.
There are side effects to both of these meds, but the research also showed that there’s not a significant difference in the number of people who experience the side effects nor the type of side effects experienced.
4. Taper Down
Tapering down is another common way to quit smoking.
There are two ways you can do this.
Either slowly reduce the number of cigarettes that you smoke each day until you reach the target day.
Or start with not having cigarettes on weekends or only having a cigarette every other day.
You can use an NRT in-between until you reach your designated day to fully stop.
5. Combination Treatments
Sometimes you need to combine different methods to find the right formula for quitting that works best for you.
A few ideas are you can taper down and use NRTs to help ease the withdrawal symptoms and minimize nicotine cravings.
Or you can taper down, do alternative therapy once a week, and use NRTs in between to help get through the first month.
Whatever way works best for you to quit smoking is the right way for you.
Don’t be afraid to try more than one method until something sticks.
Alternative Methods To Quit Smoking
There are alternative therapies where you don’t substitute one form of nicotine for another.
These are easy methods to follow, and each one listed has been proven to help people quit smoking.
Alternative therapy is aimed at tackling withdrawal symptoms and enforcing the negative effects of smoking.
The therapies discussed below are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Mindfulness Training (MT)
- Herbs, supplements and foods
Although they are called “alternative therapies” researchers and scientists have studied all of these methods and documented their success rates.
The way hypnosis works is the hypnotherapist places your body in a relaxed state.
The desire to quit smoking is strengthened because you are in a relaxed state to fight off cravings and withdrawals of nicotine.
Some therapists will provide you with affirmations to use when you feel the urge to smoke.
Randomized clinical trials have proved that hypnotherapy on its own or combined with using NRTs is more effective than simply using NRTs on its own for long-term smoking cessation success.
In fact, the research showed that hypnosis participants were over 3x more likely to have quit 6-months later than the NRT-only group.
Researchers have observed the benefits and effectiveness of using acupuncture to quit smoking.
They noted that it reduces nicotine dependence, cuts down smoking intensity and helps with withdrawal symptoms.
One published study showed:
- 20% of participants were able to quit after the first session
- 60% had quit by the fifth session
- 70% quit by the end of the treatment period
With such high success rates, it’s no wonder it’s becoming one of the most popular quit methods.
3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) addresses the behaviors and habits that influence you to smoke.
The purpose is to break you out of these habits and develop new ones that deter you from lighting a cigarette.
With CBT, you learn to be present in what you are experiencing, thinking and feeling.
The next step is you learn how to change your thoughts and feelings around your experiences.
For instance, some CBT smoke-cessation practitioners teach their patients to use the NURD method.
When you light up a cigarette, they teach you to be very aware of what you are thinking and feeling.
Once you are fully present, you read the NURD card:
- This cigarette is giving me No satisfaction;
- This is an Unpleasant experience;
- This cigarette is making me feel Rotten;
- I am losing the Desire to smoke.
Another method CBT practitioners give their patients is the EASY program.
Like NURD, patients are taught to be present to their thoughts and feelings, followed by reading the EASY card:
- Each day it is becoming easy
- And my mind is becoming calm
- So there are no good reasons to smoke
- Yesterday’s craving is gone
Studies show that those who use CBT to quit smoking have a higher rate of success than those using only NRTs (nicotine replacement therapy).
4. Acceptance And Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is another model of changing behavior.
It shares a lot of similarities with CBT, but it includes uncovering your personal values and goals.
You then base your changes on your values and goals.
ACT is used to help with everything from heavy drug and alcohol abuse to food cravings and weight loss, as well as emotional therapy and life coaching.
With ACT you focus on and change your internal experiences rather than feeling like you have no say in your impulses.
ACT has six core processes:
- Clarifying your values
- Committing to act based on your values
- Being present and mindful
- Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings without attaching to them
- Changing the way you interact with or relate to your thoughts and feelings
The ACT step of evaluating and choosing your core values goes a long way in keeping quitters on track with their goal to stop smoking permanently.
It is psychologically easier to make lasting changes when you teach your brain to make choices based on your goals and life values rather than giving into thought and feeling impulses.
In studies comparing the effectiveness of CBT for smoking cessation compared to ACT, over 30% of those in the ACT group were still smoke-free after 12 months.
The CBT group had a success rate of 13%.
Another study that compared a group of quitters who used ACT to another group that used NRTs (nicotine replacement therapy) showed significant long-term success for the ACT group.
At the one-year follow-up, the ACT group had 35% who were still smoke-free versus 15% who used NRTs without the additional ACT therapy.
5. Mindfulness Training (MT)
Mindfulness training targets both affective states and cravings to combat smoking.
There are two components to this strategy:
- Maintain attention on your immediate experience (the basis of “mindfulness” – being present)
- Maintain an attitude of acceptance toward whatever it is you are experiencing at this moment
Through these two elements, you can bring your subconscious behaviors into your consciousness so that you can effectively change your behavior and attitude toward smoking.
Not only that, you can target your associative learning process to break your affect and craving loop for long-term smoking cessation.
It helps you learn to “sit with” the negative affect, cravings and withdrawal without feeling that the only solution is to light up a cigarette.
One of the advantages of using mindfulness training is that you target not only learning how to handle your cravings and withdrawal, but you also practice the ability to not take those sensations as something happening to you.
You learn that those feelings can come and go while you simply allow the uncomfortable states.
Mindfulness training is most often used alongside cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or as a relapse-prevention therapy.
During study trials, mindfulness training was shown to be more effective than the typical group therapy offered to help those looking to quit smoking.
Another study looked at mindfulness breathing, which is similar to simply mindfulness.
Those who learned and practiced the mindfulness breathing techniques:
- Lowered their cravings
- Had fewer withdrawal symptoms
- Experienced fewer negative effects of quitting
- Smoked fewer cigarettes than those in general group therapy
- Had double the success rate of quitting
As strange as it might sound, there have been several studies looking at the effectiveness of meditation and yoga to help you quit smoking.
A randomized control study set up two groups of people who wanted to quit smoking.
One group was taught how to meditate over the course of two weeks adding up to five hours of training and the other was trained in different relaxation techniques.
The meditation training was a form of mindfulness meditation that involved body relaxation, mental imagery and mindfulness training with some background music.
It stressed no effort to control thoughts but to instead have a high state of restful alertness so that participants were aware of their bodies, minds and environments.
The relaxation training group practiced relaxing different muscle groups – face, head, shoulders, arms, legs, chest, back, tummy and so on.
They were guided to relax one muscle group after another with their eyes closed and to concentrate on the feeling of relaxing.
Both groups got 30 minutes of training over the course of 10 sessions, for a total of 5 hours of training.
The group who meditated had a 60% reduction in their smoking.
The relaxation-only group had no change.
Brain scans showed that the meditation group had more activity in the areas of their brains related to self-control.
This led the researchers to believe that learning meditation improves self-control and reduces smoking.
The interesting thing is, they didn’t recruit participants who wanted to quit.
They just recruited smokers to observe what would happen if they learned how to meditate.
One participant in the study reported that they didn’t even realize that they had cut down on smoking after practicing meditation, saying:
“I was not aware of my smoking reduction while filling out the self-report questionnaires. I usually consumed one pack with 20 cigarettes each day before training. But after I thought carefully and checked my pocket, actually I only needed half pack per day recently. It started around after 1 [week of] training naturally, but I didn’t know why.”
The researchers concluded that learning how to meditate teaches you how to focus on self-control and how to handle cravings, rather than erasing cravings altogether.
Another factor is that stress is a big part of any substance use.
We’re trying to escape some uncomfortable feelings – whether through smoking, food, alcohol, or any other means.
A build-up of stress lowers your self-control and increases impulsivity.
A recipe for disaster if you’re trying to quit smoking.
You can experience the benefits of meditation after just a few hours of training, which makes it a very attractive option to help you quit smoking for good.
Yoga is a practice of physical and mental disciplines.
The common type of yoga known in America is a modern version of Hatha yoga.
Many people use yoga to help them lose weight and reduce stress – which is one reason researchers looked into how yoga can help those trying to quit smoking.
The studies revealed great results:
- Yoga participants had 37% greater odds of completely quitting smoking
- If they didn’t quit completely, they lowered their cigarette use significantly
- For each yoga class attended, participants increased their odds of quitting by 12%
One study showed that just taking one 30-minute yoga class reduced craving for smokers – and these folks weren’t looking to reduce smoking at all.
8. Natural Herbs And Supplements
If you’re looking for a holistic approach to quitting smoking, there are a few options that have been studied and have stood up to lab tests.
Black Pepper Essential Oil
There was a study done to test how inhaling different scents can affect cravings for cigarettes.
One group was given black pepper essential oil, another group had a mint (menthol) cartridge and the final group had an empty cartridge.
The black pepper group reported significantly reduced cravings for cigarettes.
The other two groups had no change.
The black pepper group also had less irritability and anxiety compared to the other groups.
Because it is cheap and easy to get, using fresh lime instead of an NRT could be a good alternative.
Results showed that it does help those trying to quit, but not quite as well as using something like nicotine gum.
But if you’ve had a bad reaction to NRTs, using fresh lime could be what you’re looking for to help with your withdrawal phase.
Medicinal Herbal Tea (MHT) has been studied to see if it would help those trying to quit smoking.
One study looked at herbs with powerful antioxidant levels and nicotine degradation activity.
A tea was prepared with 11 different herbs, including clove and herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Groups using the tea for 4 weeks had fewer withdrawal symptoms than the placebo group.
38% taking the tea were able to quit, compared to 12% in the other group.
Another study showed that taking a medicinal herbal tea cut down the number of cigarettes consumed per day, reduced cravings and helped with withdrawal.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a common weed found all over the world.
It’s been used in folk and natural medicine for centuries.
In herbalism, it’s used as a natural option to treat mild depression.
Some naturopaths might suggest it to help you quit smoking, too.
As for the clinical research into whether St. John’s wort will help you quit smoking, there are studies showing that those who took it had an almost 40% quit rate.
And some studies reported that there was no effect at all.
The good news is, St. John’s wort doesn’t usually cause bad side effects.
But it can interfere with certain prescription medications, especially anti-depressants.
You should avoid it if you take heart medication, oral contraceptives, cancer medications and certain other prescriptions.
What To Do When You Relapse After Quitting Smoking
So, you know how to prepare to quit smoking.
You know what to expect.
And you’ve chosen your quit method.
But what happens if, after all that, you quit and then start smoking again?
The best thing to do when you relapse is to address the situation and re-evaluate your smoke cessation plan.
1. Remember Why You Decided To Stop
When you are trying to quit smoking, you should think of several reasons why you need to stop.
This will help you when you are having cravings for nicotine and when you need the motivation to keep going.
Use these reasons to remind yourself why you don’t need or want a cigarette when you feel an urge for nicotine.
2. Reach Out To Local Smoking Cessation Resources
There are support groups that can help you fight the urge to light a cigarette.
You can download an app or chat with counselors from Smokefree.gov or National Cancer Institute.
You can join a Nicotine Anonymous group in your area or join Smoke-free on social media for support when you have the urge to smoke.
3. Consider Trying A Different Approach
Just because the first way that you used to try to quit smoking didn’t work long-term for you doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way to quit that will suit you better.
There are many ways to quit.
And the reason there are many ways is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Don’t be discouraged.
When you’re ready again, try a new method.
Eventually one will stick.
Statistics show that you’re not alone in relapsing.
For most people, it takes many times trying to quit before you can finally kick the habit for good.
Deciding to quit is a hard decision to make, however when you plan and prepare for quitting it makes the struggle easier.
But the stats showing how nicotine affects tinnitus are significant.
Quitting smoking will help ease your tinnitus.
Other things you can look at to help your tinnitus are to learn about how it’s treated and what breakthroughs are going on to find a cure.
You can also try cutting down on caffeine, salt or sugar.
Try avoiding foods and situations that make tinnitus worse.
There are also many medications that trigger the ringing in your ears.