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Smoking & Dizziness

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Smoking & Dizziness
Cigarettes can make you dizzy both while smoking and while trying to quit.

Smoking cigarettes is a common form of drug use that is legalized for people ages 18 and older in the United States. It is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the United States and has also been connected to health problems like high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart disease and stroke. Whether you are currently smoking or trying to quit, you may experience brief periods of dizziness connected to the drug use.

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Cigarettes contain nicotine, a stimulant that can activate the brain and develop an addictive bond with the brain. Nicotine is the chemical that causes cigarette addiction, and it is the cause of most dizzy spells. While the smoke inhaled can cause some mild dizziness, prolonged periods of dizziness--particularly those occurring in withdrawal--can be blamed on nicotine's effects on your brain chemistry.

Lung Effects

Dizziness can occur after smoking if the brain is struggling to get the oxygen it needs. This can happen when the lungs are overloaded with smoke--the carbon and burning particles fill the lungs, preventing oxygen from flowing freely through the bronchioles and into the bloodstream. This can make you feel weak or dizziness. High amounts of nicotine can also cause this, but since nicotine has a short half-life it generally doesn't last too long. Other forms of smoking can also cause this short-term dizziness to occur.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have stopped smoking and have developed a dependency or addiction, you are likely to experience some withdrawal as your body detoxifies and breaks its addiction to nicotine. This can be very difficult and can cause several physical and psychological side effects, one of which is dizziness. Dizzy spells may be accompanied by headaches. These spells cannot be avoided or stopped entirely, but there are ways you can make them easier to handle.


If you are dizzy due to nicotine poisoning or smoke inhalation, this can wear off quickly--anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how much you have smoked. Dizziness caused by withdrawal can be more sporadic, occurring during periods of intense cravings, and these can persist off and on for weeks after your last cigarette.


According to Alberta Health Services, there are several things you can do to try and reduce the intensity of dizziness when it strikes. Practice slow breathing, inhaling deep, holding it for five seconds, then slowly exhaling to a count of seven. Light amounts of exercise can also improve blood flow to the brain and reduce dizziness, and you should drink plenty of water and juice.

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