I quit smoking and I’m coughing up phlegm

When you quit smoking, you will be looking forward to ridding yourself of several unfortunate side-effects. It can be disconcerting when you discover that some of these initially get worse rather than better. For instance, you could very well find yourself coughing up even more phlegm. But don’t let that derail your attempt to stop smoking!

man coughing up phlegmWhy does smoking make you cough?

Cigarette smoke contains numerous chemicals which are toxic. These are harmful to the tiny nodules in your lungs known as cilia. Your cilia act as a filtration system by capturing fine particles and keeping them away from your lung tissue. They move around when you breathe and are coated in a fine layer of mucus. Smoking causes your body to create more mucus and this tends to be abnormally thick. It compromises your cilia and will leave you coughing and wheezing. These are your body’s mechanisms for clearing the mucus, but it is often so gloopy that it won’t shift.

What happens when you quit?

As long as you haven’t developed COPD (Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease) or emphysema, your lungs will begin to recover quite quickly after you stop smoking. Your cilia will start to regenerate and will eventually function normally. Better still, your lungs will no longer be bombarded with nasty toxins and so mucus production drops to normal levels. But your body will strive to eject the excessive mucus that has already accumulated. That mucus will become less claggy thanks to the lack of toxins and you will feel the urge to cough because your cilia will be doing their jobs.

You will begin to cough up phlegm, but this is a good sign because it demonstrates that your body is healing itself. Your organs couldn’t do this when you continued to smoke, and you were constantly inhaling toxins. Your cilia will begin going their important work once more very soon after you quit and that means ridding your lungs of unwanted debris.

When should you seek medical help?

Any coughing and breathing issues that you experience when you quit will probably be the result of your body repairing itself. However, these symptoms may also be coincidental. Your smoking habit will have left you more vulnerable to a variety of respiratory illnesses. For this reason, should your symptoms persist, speak to your doctor as they are able to order tests if there is any doubt about the cause of the issues you are experiencing.

Can you ease your symptoms?

You might find that you are coughing up excess phlegm for as long as two months after you stop smoking. This constant coughing can leave you feeling tired and could give you a sore throat. You can help yourself by staying hydrated. Teas featuring liquorice are excellent choices as liquorice is an expectorant and also soothes the throat.

If you are living in a dry climate, use a humidifier in your home as this will help to keep any mucus loose and easier to cough up.

If your throat feels sore from all the coughing, a spoonful of honey will work wonders and might remove the need for throat lozenges or other treatments.

Why should you stay on course?

It’s hard to stop smoking, especially when you find that you are feeling worse and coughing up huge amounts of phlegm. But it is vital that you stay on course. Smoking damages almost every area of your body and shortens your life. A few weeks of coughing are surely worth enduring so that you can enjoy the many benefits of quitting.

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