People who smoke often develop a cough. This cough is caused by the body clearing out the chemicals that enter the airways and lungs through tobacco use.
While the cough may begin as a dry cough, it can eventually produce phlegm. Other symptoms include a sore throat and chest pain. A study on young military personnel found that over 40 percent of participants who smoked daily and 27 percent who smoked occasionally experienced chronic cough and phlegm production. In later stages, the cough produces phlegm that may be:. This fact highlights the importance of regular medical check-ups, particularly for smokers.
According to the American Cancer Societyof the thousands of chemicals in tobacco, at least 70 of them are known to cause cancer. Upon entering the body, many of these chemicals interfere with the function of the cilia, the tiny hair-like structures that help filter toxins from the airways.
Research indicates that formaldehyde and other chemicals slow the movement of the cilia and even reduce their length, allowing more toxins to enter the lungs.
This process caused by smoking leads to inflammation. As a result, the body attempts to remove the substances through coughing. However, initially the cough may persist or increase after quitting — usually for up to 3 months but in some cases for much longer — as the body clears out the build-up of toxins from the airways.
Coughing helps to remove toxins from the lungs so suppressing the cough is not usually helpful. The likelihood of developing one or more complications depends on how frequently someone smokes, the severity of their cough, and their overall health status. Damage to the cilia may lead to a build-up of chemicals in the lungs and airways, which can play a role in the development of:. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes — the tubes connecting the lungs to the nose and mouth.
Symptoms include breathing difficulties due to a reduced capacity to carry air, and phlegm in the airways. In9. Smoking is the most common cause of this condition. COPD is a progressive disease characterized by difficulty breathing. The term COPD includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Symptoms include cough, phlegm, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.Smoking releases thousands of chemicals into your body.
The positive health effects of quitting smoking begin 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your blood pressure and pulse will start to return to more normal levels.
This is beneficial for the lungs: These fibers help move irritants and bacteria out of the lungs, helping reduce the risk for infection.
Within eight hours, your carbon monoxide levels will return to a more normal level. Carbon monoxide is a chemical present in cigarette smoke that replaces oxygen particles in the blood, lowering the amount of oxygen your tissues receive. When carbon monoxide goes away, your oxygen levels start to increase to more normal levels. This increased oxygen helps nourish tissues and blood vessels that were getting less oxygen while you were smoking.
This is because of reduced constriction of veins and arteries as well as increased oxygen levels that go to the heart to boost its functioning. At 48 hours, previously damaged nerve endings start to regrow. You may also start to notice that senses that were previously dulled due to smoking improve. This is because the bronchial tubes inside the lungs have started to relax and open up more. This makes air exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen easier.
In addition, your lung capacity, or ability of the lungs to fill up with air, increases about three days after quitting.
The one-week milestone is important not only for your health, but for your success rate in quitting smoking successfully long term. Smokers who successfully make it one week without smoking are nine times as likely to successfully quit. The chances of quitting smoking for good increase with every attempt. If you can make it to one week, you can make it for a lifetime.
This is thanks to improved circulation and oxygenation. Your lung function also increases as much as 30 percent about two weeks after stopping smoking, notes the University of Michigan.
In just one short month, you can experience many health changes related to stopping smoking. One is feeling a sense of heightened overall energy. You may also notice that many smoking-related symptoms have decreased, such as sinus congestion and shortness of breath with exercise. In addition to these benefits, fibers in the lungs that help keep the lungs healthy are growing back. These fibers can help reduce excess mucus buildup and protect against bacterial infections.
Within three months after quitting, a woman can improve her fertility as well as reduce the risk that her baby will be born prematurely. This is because the airways are much less inflamed without the constant exposure to cigarette smoke and the chemicals contained within cigarettes.
After one year of quitting smoking, your lungs will have experienced dramatic health improvements in terms of capacity and functioning. Smoking cigarettes is expensive. In three years after quitting smoking, your risk of a heart attack has decreased to that of a nonsmoker.
Smoking not only limits oxygen flow to the heart. It also damages the lining of the arteries. Fatty tissue starts to build up, making it more likely that a person will experience a heart attack or stroke.
Quitting smoking can help reverse these effects and promote a healthier heart in the years to come. Five years after you stop smoking, your risk of death from lung cancer has dropped by half compared to when you smoked, according to the University of North Carolina. At the decade mark, your risk of dying due to lung cancer has decreased to that of a nonsmoker. The cells that were previously precancerous are now replaced with healthy cells. In addition to decreasing the risks for lung cancer, your risk of developing smoking-related illnesses also goes down.
This includes a reduced risk for cancers of the:.Did you know that coughing is not a common withdrawal symptom from quitting smoking? However, some ex-smokers develop one early in his or her smoking cessation for a short time. So why does this happen? The reason why some smokers start to cough has to do with his or her cilia in the lungs. Over the years of smoking, the chemicals have damaged the tiny hair-like projections called cilia in the lungs.
It is a shielding barrier found between the outside world and the delicate tissue of the lungs when you have healthy lungs, the bronchial tubes lined with a thin layer of cilia and mucus. The mucus moves back and forwards to clean out pollutants inhaled and trapped in the lungs to remove it from the body.The benefits of quitting smoking
Both the cilia and mucus protect the lungs from a wide selection of respiratory diseases and infections. By now, you know that cigarettes consist of thousands of chemicals that damage the lungs. Furthermore, it leaves behind a yellow sticky coating called tar.
You will find it on the teeth, clothing, furniture, fingers, and your lungs. With the tar buildup in the lungs, it shuts down the cilia to prevent it from functioning well-causing inflammation in your airways.
Therefore, you have excess mucus and combined with dust, dirt, and germs it remains in the lungs. That is why smokers have a more significant risk of getting chest infections or diseases such as lung cancer or chronic bronchitis. After stopping the cilia starts functioning, enabling the lungs to remove all the trapped toxins.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
However, if you do find the cough is persistent we recommend you visit your doctor. The important thing is that you do not want to reduce the cough as it helps to rid the body of the pollutants caused by tobacco. However, to help soothe the problem, you need to stay hydrated by drinking water, tea, or juice. Try some tea with licorice root, as it is natural expectorants.
Furthermore, you can try using a humidifier if you live in dry areas. The device helps to loosen mucus to get the harmful chemicals out of the body. We hope that the above information helps you to understand why you are coughing after quitting smoking. However, if the cough does not go away, you need to visit the doctor if the following happens:.Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, but quitting can be daunting.
Many fear it will take a long time to see improvements in health and well-being, but the timeline for seeing real benefits is faster than most people realize. Here are some key points about smoking cessation. More detail and supporting information is in the main article. The benefits are almost instant. As soon as a person stops smoking their body begins to recover in the following ways:.
In as little as 20 minutes after the last cigarette is smoked, the heart rate drops and returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop, and circulation may start to improve. Cigarettes contain a lot of known toxins including carbon monoxide, a gas present in cigarette smoke. This gas can be harmful or fatal in high doses and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs and blood. When inhaled in large doses in a short time, suffocation can occur from lack of oxygen.
After just 12 hours without a cigarette, the body cleanses itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes. Just 1 day after quitting smoking, the risk of heart attack begins to decrease. Smoking raises the risk of developing coronary heart disease by lowering good cholesterolwhich makes heart-healthy exercise harder to do.
Smoking also raises blood pressure and increases blood clots, increasing the risk of stroke. Smoking damages the nerve endings responsible for the senses of smell and taste. In as little as 2 days after quitting, a person may notice a heightened sense of smell and more vivid tastes as these nerves heal. While it is healthier to have no nicotine in the body, this initial depletion can cause nicotine withdrawal. Around 3 days after quitting, most people will experience moodiness and irritability, severe headachesand cravings as the body readjusts.
As the lungs heal and lung capacity improves, former smokers may notice less coughing and shortness of breath. Athletic endurance increases and former smokers may notice a renewed ability for cardiovascular activities, such as running and jumping.
Nine months after quitting, the lungs have significantly healed themselves. The delicate, hair-like structures inside the lungs known as cilia have recovered from the toll cigarette smoke took on them. These structures help push mucus out of the lungs and help fight infections. Around this time, many former smokers notice a decrease in the frequency of lung infections because the healed cilia can do their job more easily.
This risk will continue to drop past the 1-year mark.
Cigarettes contain many known toxins that cause the arteries and blood vessels to narrow. These same toxins also increase the likelihood of developing blood clots.Cigarette smoking damages the lungs in a variety of ways 5. Quitting smoking, on the other hand, results in healing within the lungs and favorable changes that decrease the risk of disease. The sooner you quit, the better the chance for reversing the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs.
Tiny hairlike projections on the surface of the lungs and airways -- called cilia -- clear mucus and debris from the lungs. Cilia are damaged by tobacco smoke, rendering them unable to effectively clear particles and move mucus through the airways. Cilia begin to regain function within weeks after quitting smoking, with continued improvement for at least several months.
This change typically leads to decreased coughing and fewer respiratory infections due to cleaner airways throughout the lungs.
What happens after you quit smoking?
Smoking causes inflammation of the airway walls, leading to thickening of these walls and increased mucus production. Inflammation is a key component of smoking-related lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
After quitting smoking, airway inflammation diminishes, improving disease symptoms and leading to fewer lung infections 2. Additionally, when the airways return to a normal thickness, lung function improves as well.
This enables the oxygen the lungs take in from the air to be more easily be moved to other parts of the body. A key feature of COPD is an inability to efficiently move air in and out of the lungs. Quitting smoking allows the small airways within the lungs to become more elastic.
Improved elasticity permits the lungs to hold more oxygen-rich air as it is breathed in. Emptying the lungs while exhaling is also more effective, and this allows for more efficient expulsion of carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of normal metabolism -- from the body. Improved lung function can lead to an increased capacity for exercise and physical work. The heightened risk of lung cancer in people who smoke is due to abnormal changes in the genes of lung cells caused by the chemicals in tobacco smoke.
Damage to lung cells builds up over time, and eventually can lead to a cancerous tumor. Stopping smoking gives lung cells a chance to repair already-sustained genetic damage -- and additional damage from ongoing exposure to tobacco smoke is avoided. The risk of lung cancer falls within 5 years of quitting. Ten years after quitting, lung cancer risk decreases by one-third to one-half compared to people who continue to smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1 6.
Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk of disease. If you are ready to quit, and want help or support, talk with your doctor to learn more about counseling, support groups or medications that can help you stay tobacco-free. Cigarette smoking damages the lungs in a variety of ways.
Sylvie Stacy is a physician with board-certification in preventive medicine. Her professional interests lie at the intersection of medicine and public health, with particular enthusiasm for medical communications, evidence-based medicine, and health information technology. Monitor the health of your community here.
More Articles. Diseases and Injuries. If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately. About the Author.I quit smoking two months ago with the help of Chantix. However, I seem to cough more now than than when I was smoking. Is this normal for people who have smoked for 20 years? I feel much better overall, but I am a little concerned that maybe emphysema might be setting in.
Conditions Expert Dr. Congratulations on quitting smoking. I realize how difficult it is and respect the commitment it takes to stay off cigarettes. Remember, one out of three lifelong smokers will die of a smoking-related disease. These include cardiovascular disease, pulmonary diseases and numerous cancers. There are many advantages of stopping smoking. Two weeks to three months after quitting: Your circulation improves, and your lung function increases.
One to nine months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
One year after quitting : The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's. Five years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker five to 15 years after quitting. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decreases. If you have a chronic cough, meaning it lasts more than a week, you should be seen by a physician.
After an examination and history, he or she may elect to do a chest X-ray or even a CT of the chest. In most cases, these test results will be normal, and the cough will just wear off. Chantix is one of several drugs that are useful for those wanting to stop smoking.
Most take it for three months. I do not know if you are still taking it. If you are, it could be the cause of the cough. Deep in the list of side effects, a small number less than one in of people report asthma-like symptoms and cough as a side effect. Nicotine gum and nicotine patches are also useful for many who want to stop smoking. Previous question: What should I consider before having uterus, ovaries removed? You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law.
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CNN Privacy Statement. The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here.Smoking results in cumulative harm to your body, causing lung cancer and other diseases.
But some could seem counterintuitive. For example, you might experience a shortness of breath or chest tightness. How can this be? As soon as you quit smoking, your body will begin to fix itself. Your lungs will start repairing damaged tissues by removing chemicals and toxins that have accumulated during your smoking time.
The bottom line is that shortness of breath is common. The shortness of breath after quitting smoking can be reduced by engaging in deep breathing exercises. Here are three breathing techniques that may help. Besides shortness of breath after quitting smoking, here are more things you may experience after quitting smoking.
Copyright WWW. Last Updated 10 April, Shortness of Breath After Quitting Smoking. Other possible explanations for shortness of breath once smoking has ceased include: Increased Feelings of Stress or Anxiety. This is particularly true with ex-smokers who used smoking as a form of relaxation. Few Chances for Deep Breathing. Shortness of breath after quitting smoking can also be caused by taking fewer deep breaths.
Certain Underlying Lung Sensitivities. They can show up once smoking has stopped. For instance, those who have sensitive lungs might have gotten used to a tar coating inside the lungs. Once this tar-free tissue is exposed to normal air particles, coughing and shortness of breath can occur. What You Can Do with the Situation To help relieve the symptoms after quitting smoking, try the following measures. Be sure to hydrate more.
You can do this by increasing the humidity of your living or working space and drinking a lot of fluids. You can also make a point of avoiding dirty air. Wear a mask during your recovery time. By breathing clean air, you can speed up your lungs' healing. In addition, get plenty of exercises. Aerobic exercises are good for improving lung and heart function. Aim for 30 minutes of activity each day. Breathing Exercises After Quitting Smoking The shortness of breath after quitting smoking can be reduced by engaging in deep breathing exercises.
Belly Breathing Feels Better: Belly breathing involves allowing your belly to expand as you take a deep breath. The most positive effects are best achieved when having deep breathing in a quiet place. Do Hold Your Breath: Holding your breath is a great way to practice deep breathing. Start by slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling several times, counting to eight each time. Hold your breath for 5 seconds, and then exhale.
Inhale and exhale a few times before repeating the process over again. In fact, a forced exhaling with belly breathing is a type of yoga exercise called pranayama. To do pranayama, inhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are full of air.