Cough after quitting smoking, how to treat and how long it lasts
Chronic cough torments most smokers. However, the decision to overcome addiction to tobacco is not a guarantee that you will instantly stop coughing. On the contrary, at first, coughing fits can intensify so much that they literally do not let you breathe. Let’s take a closer look at what explains the cough after quitting smoking and how to act so that it passes faster.
Is coughing up phlegm normal?
Smoking not only causes coughing, but also reduces cough manifestations. In fact, any heavy smoker coughs much weaker and less often than he could, given the regular poisoning of his body with toxic substances found in tobacco. What is this oddity about?
The point is this. Nicotine, getting into the blood, leads to the expansion of the bronchioles – the final smallest branches of the bronchi in the lung lobules. As a result, the secretion of mucous bronchial secretion, which is necessary to protect the body from the penetration of pathogenic viruses and bacteria into the depths of the respiratory system, decreases. On the other hand, the secret that is still released stagnates in the bronchi.
The cause of stagnation is the low activity of epithelial cilia, which densely dot the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. In non-smokers, these microvilli are constantly moving, pushing out excess mucus along with external contaminants. With intense movement of the cilia, a reflex cough occurs – for example, when we enter a dusty room.
However, in smokers, epithelial cilia almost do not move – their condition can be compared with a deep faint. As a result, the irritation of the respiratory organs is reduced, and if so, the cough almost disappears. Only there is nothing to rejoice here – the bronchi and lungs have not been cleared of external pollution and sputum for years.
Usually smokers cough only in the morning. This painful dry cough is caused by the unsuccessful attempt of the respiratory system to get rid of the mucus that has accumulated overnight in the bronchi and on the walls of the trachea. From the first puff, relief comes, but, as already mentioned, it is imaginary.
Persistent functional disorders of the respiratory organs prevent their full-fledged work, even mild infections can provoke the development of severe complications. Every year smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, an oncological disease that is practically untreatable.
But now you gathered your will into a fist and gave up cigarettes. Gradually, the epithelial cilia come out of the trance and are set to work with a vengeance. When moving, they push out clots of mucus that have accumulated in the bronchi for many years.
The started process of cleansing the respiratory system is expressed in a strong cough with copious sputum. Do not be afraid of its grayish tint, because along with the old mucus, the bronchi and lungs get rid of soot, tar, nicotine tar and other smoking products.
How long does the cough last after the last cigarette?
The duration of this process depends on the length of smoking, the number of cigarettes smoked and the individual characteristics of the body. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the normal secretion of epithelial mucus is restored faster than the cilia of the bronchioles come to life, so that the bronchial secret for some time accumulates even more inside the bronchi and lungs.
Quitting tobacco smoking and drinking alcohol, proper nutrition and physical activity reduce the risk of cancer by 30%.
If you smoked only occasionally, perhaps such problems will bypass you. Cough, even if it appears, will pass by itself in a few days.
But with the regular use of tobacco products for 10 years with a cough, as you quit smoking, you will have to put up with an average of about a year. In the latter case, the functions of the respiratory system will be fully restored within 3 years.
However, the most difficult period lasts only the first months after quitting smoking. In the future, protracted and exhausting coughing fits will be replaced by a rare cough, which is much easier to bear.
What to do and how to treat?
Although coughing after quitting smoking is completely natural, this does not mean that you only need to patiently wait until it passes. Such inactivity is dangerous.
Most smokers suffer from chronic bronchitis with frequent exacerbations. After giving up cigarettes against the background of this disease, due to the impaired function of clearing the bronchi, there is a danger of obstruction of the lung tissue, leading to respiratory failure. In addition, during the adaptation period, ex-smokers are more than usual at risk of catching pharyngitis, laryngitis and tonsillitis, which worsens their overall health even more.
You will avoid these risks if you reject the idea of abrupt quitting. Take small steps: first reduce your daily “dose” of nicotine – sometimes by one cigarette every few days, then switch to lighter varieties. And only when you smoke no more than 1-2 cigarettes a day, give up tobacco altogether.
Unfortunately, not all smokers know that this addiction must be dealt with gradually. What to do if you said goodbye to smoking in one fell swoop and are now suffering from a cough? Remember how ordinary bronchitis is treated and follow the same pattern.
Non-smokers and those who have quit this bad habit have a higher level of cognitive abilities.
Alternatively, you can go to the hospital, where you can be prescribed expectorants ( thermopsis , sodium bicarbonate, and others) and mucolytics that thin sputum (ACC, Bromhexine, Ambroxol ). As a rule, at the same time, antihistamines are indicated, which relieve swelling and facilitate the removal of bronchial secretions. But here, and in the case of folk remedies, a doctor’s consultation is required!
Do not forget about traditional medicine recipes. Mucolytic and expectorant properties are decoctions of sage, licorice, marshmallow, lime blossom. In addition to oral administration, do inhalations with decoctions of the same herbs, essential oils of fir, pine and eucalyptus, soda-salt solutions. Keep a pack of over-the-counter lozenges or lozenges with you at all times to soothe an irritated throat.
Be sure to increase your fluid intake to 1.5 liters or more per day. With insufficient drinking, the sputum thickens, and it becomes more difficult to cough it up. Drink ordinary boiled or mineral water, sweet carbonated drinks and strong tea do not give the desired effect.
In addition, you will get rid of a cough faster if you do special breathing exercises every day – the corresponding exercises are easy to find on the Internet. Move more, go to the pool, gradually increasing physical activity. If possible, visit the Russian bath – staying in the steam room eases coughing and improves expectoration.
When to go to the doctor?
We repeat once again that during the period of adaptation to life without nicotine, the risk of developing various diseases of the respiratory organs increases. Therefore, stay alert and contact a specialist if alarming symptoms appear.
You can’t do without medical help if you have regular bouts of dry cough, chest pains, general weakness and fever increase. These symptoms indicate the occurrence of obstructive changes that can lead to pneumonia, emphysema, acute respiratory and heart failure.
If the situation becomes serious, in no case in a panic do not grab a cigarette again. The intake of nicotine in the body after a long break will dramatically worsen your already serious condition. Instead of trying dubious self-treatment, it is better to urgently go to the doctor.
After examining and listening, the specialist will refer you for an examination. To make an accurate diagnosis in such cases, methods of X-ray examination, computed and magnetic resonance imaging are used, general blood and urine tests are taken. Based on the results of the diagnosis, a medical conclusion will be made and treatment will be prescribed using drugs that successfully stop the acute process.