Smoking is a habit that is quite addictive. Besides that, it can affect your respiratory system as well as other organs in the body. If you are suffering from what appears to be a side effect of a common cold, this could have more to do with your smoking than any bacterial or viral infections.
We call the condition of your lungs that is common to many, “smoker’s cough.” People who have been smoking for a long time usually develop this affliction. It takes time for cigarette irritants to build up and do the harm that seems to accompany anyone who has this type of cough. Here’s what happens.
Why do we cough? Usually there is something in your throat or lungs that you are trying to expel. When you cough, the movement clears your airway of the offending substance.
In the trachea and nasal passages tiny hair-like projections called cilia can be found. Cilia are found in other places in the body as well and their job is the same – move foreign irritating substances out of the body. Smoking damages these cilia and stops them from moving.
In an effort to remove irritants, the body produces mucus. In the lungs, it is referred to as phlegm. When the cilia are not working properly, more mucus is needed. Mucus is moved around when you cough. It travels upwards so that you can swallow it down your esophagus. It sounds disgusting, but that is the only way that the lungs can free themselves.
Now, when you are awake, periodic coughing moves those irritants from cigarette smoking out of the lungs. When you sleep, they build up, which is why smokers cough so much in the morning when they first get up. The coughing can go on for some time until the lungs are completely clear. It is usually a hacking cough which sounds as bad as it must feel.
Smoker’s cough has other implications that are all detrimental to your health. Damaged cilia can’t remove cigarette chemicals from your lungs but they also can’t move other substances from them either. Pollutants, allergens, bacteria and even viruses can get in and cause all sorts of respiratory distress because the body won’t have an easy time getting rid of them.
The only real treatment for a smoker’s cough is to, well, quit smoking. As long as the offending substances continue to invade your lungs, they will continue to affect the movement of the cilia and your respiratory system. Over time, the lungs will begin to clear and the cough will slowly go away.
Have you been experiencing a dry or a productive cough with a lot of phlegm? If you smoke, it could be the beginning of your bout with what is known as “smoker’s cough.”