A smoker’s cough is a common complaint among people who smoke, especially those long-term smokers. A cough is considered a smoker’s cough if it's present for more than two or three weeks. 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.
At first, it may be dry (in smokers who haven’t smoked for very long), but over time it usually produces phlegm. This phlegm or sputum can be clear, white, yellow, or even green or brown. A smoking-related cough is usually worse upon awakening and improves over the remainder of the day. Of course, there are many exceptions, and you never want to dismiss a morning cough.
The airways are lined with cilia, tiny hair-like cells that catch toxins in the inhaled air and move them upwards toward the mouth. Smoking paralyzes these cells so they're unable to do their job.
Instead of being caught in transit, toxins are allowed to enter the lungs, where they settle and create inflammation. This, in turn, leads to coughing as the body attempts to clear these substances from your lungs.
The cilia in your lungs – little hair-like structures that help keep the lungs clean – are often damaged or completely paralyzed by certain chemicals inside tar from cigarette smoke. This means that any toxins usually cleaned up by the cilia instead just settle in your lungs. After a while, this can lead to a build-up of mucus.
In reaction to this, your body starts coughing in an attempt to shake loose and expel the toxins and mucus. However, for long-term smokers this defense mechanism sometimes isn’t strong enough and the build-up of viruses and bacteria in the lungs can lead to pneumonia and acute bronchitis.
A sustained cough in a smoker could also be a sign of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, which is an inflammation and scarring of the lungs (due to smoking). It can cause the body to produce large amounts of mucus, which again results in a cough.
How to treat a smoker’s cough?
Quitting for a long period of time could help clear up the airways and allow the cilia to repair themselves.
Making sure you drink plenty of water is key, as it thins out the mucus in your lungs and throat.
There are also ways to soothe or ease the discomfort caused by the cough such as gargling with warm salt water, taking throat lozenges and having hot water with honey.
How to prevent a smoker’s cough?
The best way to get rid of that hacking cough is to quit smoking altogether. While your cough may worsen for a few weeks after quitting, it almost always improves in time. However, those who have developed a serious smoker’s cough tend to be long-term, heavy smokers – the group least likely to quit. Most of the time, this group does not want to quit.
If so, is there a solution to prevent a smokers cough for those people who can't or won't stop smoking? Yes, of course there is a surprising proven way to prevent cough by preventing the tar from being inhaled into your body. When there is less tar inhaled means less toxic in the body and less your body will not attempt to lose the toxin in the body. In the short term, you will no longer be coughing when there is no tar inside your body.
Many people using this tar filter have given feedback that their morning cough completely stopped as fast as 5 days, and they continually keep using tar filters while smoking.
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