Why You’re Coughing Even after You’ve Quit Smoking
It’s no news that quitting smoking is a difficult process. It’s doing your body a world of good, but it’s still a major change from the habits your body has grown used to. That’s why you’ll have a hard time dealing with withdrawal symptoms and fighting off the effects of nicotine cravings.
Now that you’re abstaining from tobacco, you can expect to experience some positive bodily changes. Your temperature may be higher overall, your sense of taste may improve, and you may regain sensitivity in your fingertips. However, there’s one thing that you may find difficult to get rid of: coughing. Even weeks after you’ve quit smoking, you may find yourself still susceptible to bouts of coughing.
The good news is that this cough is vastly different from the smoker’s cough that results from regularly inhaling smoke. The cough that comes after you’ve quit smoking signifies that your body is recovering from years’ worth of damage caused by smoking. When you’ve finally managed to stop inhaling harmful chemicals into your lungs, your body starts the regeneration process.
The thin, hair-like, minute projections – called cilia – along the inside of your respiratory tract start to grow back, and their regrowth causes disturbances along your respiratory tract. As a result, you start coughing. Coughing is also one of the main ways through which your body gets rid of toxins introduced to your body through cigarettes. Your throat and lungs may experience irritation or stress from the toxins your body is trying to expel through the respiratory tract. This, in turn, makes you cough.
So it’s generally a good sign when quitting smoking causes you to cough; it means that your body is purging toxins and is trying to get back to its normal healthy state.
When to see a doctor about it
However, in some cases, it’s best to consult a medical professional about your coughing. If the cough is persistent and forceful enough to cause alarm or to interfere with a quality of life, you may benefit from a visit to the doctor. Coughing up blood is never a good sign either, so you’ll want to consult your doctor when you start expelling blood. In such cases, coughing is an early symptom that may point to a more serious condition such as lung damage or lung cancer.
If you feel like something is amiss with the frequency and strength of your coughs, it never hurts to pay your doctor a visit. And it’s recommended that you visit the doctor after a few weeks of quitting smoking, anyway, so he or she can assess then the state of your lungs and respiratory system. This way, you’ll know if your coughing is a result of your body recovering at the normal rate or if it’s a sign that you need further treatment for the serious damage caused by long-term smoking. The earlier these conditions are caught, the better the prognosis tends to be.
Of course, the lack of coughing after you’ve quit smoking shouldn’t be cause for alarm either. Not all smokers have the same experience with quitting smoking, so you might not suffer from coughing at all during this period. It doesn’t mean that your body is not regenerating its cilia or that it’s healing more slowly; it can simply mean that the regrowth of cilia isn’t affecting your respiratory tract as much as it affects others.
Even if you’re not coughing, you’ll want to get that doctor’s appointment after the first few weeks of quitting smoking. Only a doctor can confirm that your body, particularly your lungs and respiratory tract, is indeed well on its way to recovery and that it’s getting rid of the toxins brought by cigarette smoke.