Smokers Cough – The Salient Facts

Most of us are familiar with the annoying sound effects of smokers cough, whether or not we smoke. Repetitive coughing not only aggravates the person who smokes, it’s maddening to bystanders

Let’s explore causes and consequences of smoker’s cough.


Career smokers develop a persistent cough. Smokers have a distinctive kind of cough that sounds like mucous is rattling in their airways. This is considered a productive cough because phlegm is expelled.

It is most prevalent upon awakening, as the mucous is contained overnight. During the day coughing somewhat subsides in most people.

Smokers CoughCigarettes & Chronic Coughing

Chemicals in cigarettes that the body considers foreign invaders travel through air passages into lungs. Coughing is the body’s attempt to eject them.

Cilla is a hair-like structure contained in the airways that removes foreign materials from the lungs by using outwardly sweeping actions. Cigarette smoke reduces sweeping actions, causing some toxins to remain in the lungs.

During restorative sleep, a portion of the cilla’s efficiency is restored. This is the cause behind early morning coughing. The body is attempting to clear out accumulated toxins.

What are the Potential Consequences?

Eventually heavy smoking permanently damages the cilla and the body can’t cleanse its respiratory system. This results in heightened susceptibility to viruses, bacteria and toxins and increased risk for infections.

Toxic chemicals build-up in the body and cause medical conditions such as: emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia.


Carbon dioxide and oxygen are switched around in air sacs or alveoli. In long-term smokers, the alveoli walls thin and are easily broken. The damage is irreversible. In time, a majority of air sacs will be penetrated and quit functioning.

The lungs lose elasticity, making it difficult to exhale. The transfer rate of oxygen/carbon dioxide is reduced, leading to shortness of breath.


Constant smokers cough inflames the bronchi, causing the bronchial walls to swell and produce extreme amounts of mucous. Chronic coughing thickens the mucous layer, airways narrow and breathing normally becomes arduous. In addition, the cilla are permanently compromised and the ongoing, thicker mucous breeds bacteria.


If bronchitis isn’t treated, infection can further damage the respiratory tract and cause pneumonia.

Lung Cancer

Continuous exposure to toxic substances in cigarettes can cause viral infections and lead to lung cancer.


After quitting smoking, many people are dismayed when their smokers cough gets worse. The medical term is “smoking cessation cough”. This cough is temporary to allow cilia to repair themselves and eject final remainders of foreign material from the airways.

Useful Resources:

Smokers ignore cough warning:

“If only I’d seen my doctor sooner”:

One Response to “Smokers Cough – The Salient Facts”

  1. Pete says:

    Great article. It makes me want to quit polluting my lungs with all those chemicals in cigarettes!!

Leave a Reply

© 2013 How To Stop Smoking. All rights reserved.
Web Analytics