When you smoke anything, such as cigarettes, cigars, and vaporizers, you inhale many chemical ingredients. These chemicals get stuck in your body’s throat and lungs. Coughing is your body’s natural way of clearing these airways. When the cough lasts for a long time after extended periods of smoking, it’s known as smoker’s cough.
Smoker’s cough tends to sound different than regular coughing. It involves wheezing and crackling noises associated with phlegm in your throat. Smoker’s cough also tends to be wet, or productive. That means it carries a lot of mucus and phlegm with it.
Smoker’s cough can become chronic if you’re a daily smoker. It can make your throat and lungs hurt. Many treatments can help manage the irritation and soothe your throat.
What causes smoker’s cough?
Cilia are the tiny hair-like structures along your airways. When you smoke, the cilia lose some of their ability to push chemicals and other foreign materials out of your lungs. Because of this, toxins remain in your lungs for much longer than they normally would. In response, your body has to cough more to remove the chemicals from your lungs.
Smoker’s cough can be especially irritating in the morning. This is because cilia regain their ability to remove the chemicals from your lungs when you haven’t smoked for a few hours. This can make your cough much more unpleasant when you wake up.
A smoker’s cough can also involve postnasal drip. This is when mucus leaks into your throat. It causes you to cough or clear your throat frequently, and it can make your cough worse.
A variety of treatments are available for smoker’s cough. These range from traditional treatments to alternative and home remedies.
The best way to treat smoker’s cough is to decrease the amount you smoke or quit smoking altogether. Quitting smoking removes the cause of the cough.
Other traditional ways to help treat your cough include:
- Soothe your throat with cough drops, lozenges, or a salt water gargle.
- Drink 6–8 glasses of water per day to keep the mucus in your lungs and throat thin.
- Elevate your head above the rest of your body while you sleep to make sure mucus doesn’t gather in your throat.
- Exercise 30 minutes per day on a regular basis. Exercise loosens up your mucus and makes it easier to cough up phlegm.
- Avoid coffee or alcohol to help lessen the severity of your cough. Coffee and alcohol can dehydrate you and cause irritation.
You can make some treatments at home to relieve and treat the discomfort of your cough. Try the following remedies:
- Drink green tea, which contains antioxidants, or chamomile tea, which contains ingredients that have a relaxing effect on your body.
- Use honey in your hot tea or water, or swallow a teaspoonful of it every day. Honey will coat your throat and reduce throat irritation.
- Take vitamin C supplements or drink liquids with high amounts of vitamin C, such as orange juice.