If you’ve ever smoked for any length of time, then you almost certainly have at least passing familiarity with the infamous “smoker’s cough” that so many tobacco users experience and is common is smoking history. For many smokers, this pervasive cough is often one of the main reasons for ending their reliance on tobacco products. After all, who wants to wake up in the morning hacking, and then suffer periodic fits of coughing throughout the day just to satisfy that nicotine craving? If you’ve been concerned about your smoker’s cough and wondering what you can do about it, a deeper understanding of its causes and possible solutions can help.
Smoker’s cough is an entirely different kind of cough than the one you might experience if you have a simple cold or even allergies. With cold and allergy coughs, you can usually take medicine that will help to suppress the symptoms, or use cough drops or syrup to soothe the throat and relieve the tension. Smoker’s cough is resistant to those cough aids, and can afflict you throughout the day – no matter what measures you take to try to stop it.
For smokers who haven’t been stuck with the tobacco habit for long, that cough is typically dry and wheezy. After years of smoking, however, it can gradually become more pronounced and mucus-productive – meaning that you cough up wet phlegm. As a general rule, that phlegm is thickest in the morning when you first wake up, and can be experienced as part of a general coughing fit as your body tries to expel the toxins in its system.
To understand why smokers cough like this, it is important to understand cigarettes and how your lings react to them. Tobacco manufacturers don’t just provide products with pure tobacco; instead, they load their products up with hundreds and thousands of chemicals. Some are designed to enhance flavor, while others are there to supercharge the nicotine delivery and absorption. Some are even believed to be an attempt to enhance the addictive properties of cigarettes. The problem is that many of these chemicals are toxins that trigger various responses in the human body.
One of those responses takes place inside the lungs and involves the structures known as cilia. If you remember high school biology class, then you’ll probably recall that cilia are those little hair-like appendages inside the lungs tasked with removing toxins. Think of them as little lung cleaning machines, whose job is to protect your lungs from any number of harmful substances – you know, like cigarette smoke. Well, it turns out the toxins in cigarette smoke have the ability to cause these cilia to become paralyzed – rendering them unable to perform their lung-cleaning role in the body.
As you might imagine, that creates an immediate problem, since it means that there is no effective mechanism left to prevent those toxins from simply settling into the lungs and taking up residence. The presence of this foreign body in the lungs then triggers the auto immune system to create an inflammation reaction as an emergency response to the toxins. As inflammation occurs, the lungs react by coughing and trying to expel the smoke toxins to restore their internal balance. See our article on tobacco harm reduction for more information.
First of all, if you have smoker’s cough and you smoke, you may not be alarmed. You really should be, though, because it could be a sign of something worse. Often times, that extra mucous production involved in your cough can be a perfect environment for bacterial growth – and that can lead to bronchial infections that may require antibiotic treatments. Sometimes the cough can progress to the point where you’re hacking up blood as well, and that can be a sign of a truly serious health concern.
Experts have recommended a number of steps that can be taken to limit smoker’s cough – including smoking cessation efforts. If you intend to smoke, however, you can try to remain hydrated, rely on throat lozenges, use vapor in your living quarters to create a minty steam, eat better, and be sure to get plenty of rest. For better health in the long run, though, nothing beats an effort to end the smoking habit.
Vaping can be a great way to accomplish your goal of ending your smoker’s cough for good. Millions of former smokers have already made the switch from tobacco cigarettes to vaping, and many report that they quickly experienced an end to smoker’s cough, improved breathing and energy levels, and a host of other benefits. Alternatively, you can simply try to manage the cough as best you can, and hope that it doesn’t get worse. But, with a viable nicotine delivery system already out in the marketplace, the healthier option is to simply say goodbye to your smoker’s cough once and for all by choosing to vape. The best vape pens are easy to find thanks to our simple guide, but if your after a cig-a-like type that doesn’t produce too much vapor and is therefore a little more discrete then we suggest you take a look at our Green Smoke review.