Why am I still coughing after I quit smoking?

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Why am I still coughing after I quit smoking?

Question

I quit smoking six weeks ago, but now I'm coughing a lot, which didn't happen when I was smoking. What's going on?

Janet
Illinois

Answer

Although it's not common, some people find that they seem to cough more than normal soon after they stop smoking. The cough is usually temporary and may actually be a sign that your body is healing.

Why some people seem to cough more soon after quitting smoking isn't clear. One explanation is that as the lungs heal, the microscopic hairs lining them — called cilia — begin working again. As the cilia attempt to clear out the inhaled particles, it can lead to coughing. This coughing may last as long as a couple of months, until the cilia are fully recovered. To relieve coughing in the meantime, try sipping water or sucking on cough drops.

If coughing persists for more than eight weeks or if coughing brings up sputum or blood or disturbs your sleep, see your doctor to check for a more serious cause of your coughing.

Last Updated: 2010-02-13
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