The Most Important Thing You Should Know About Smoker's Cough

Smoker's cough is a subject we sometimes talk about, but it's something most of us really don't know all that much about. Smoker's cough carries with it a very significant message, which we'll get to in a moment. Remember when you first tried smoking a cigarette, or a cigar? You most likely coughed. Maybe even a bit violently. Was that your first experience with smoker's cough? The answer is no.

Smoker's cough is something it takes a bit of time to develop. The coughing is not the result of smoke irritating the lungs or the linings of our air passages, although that kind of coughing is bad enough and should be telling us something. The coughing we experience during the early stages of smoking is a dry cough. It's our body's way of reacting so something it doesn't like, something that is irritating, and something that is doing damage somewhere.

Coughing Should Be Telling Us Something

Smoker's cough is a little bit scary once you get to understand just what the term means. The coughing we do while actually smoking is telling us that we are doing damage to ourselves. For whatever reason we either don't get the message, or more likely, we choose to ignore it. After all, we can quit any time we want, at which time we will no longer be doing ourselves any damage. Right?

So, you've been smoking a number of years when all of a sudden, or so it seems, a new kind of cough enters the picture. It usually comes in the morning. Maybe you've reached the point where the first thing you like to do upon awakening is having the first smoke of the day. Before that can happen though, you first need to contend with a brief coughing fit. You need to work up a lot of phlegm that's accumulated overnight. You may not be sure why this is happening every morning. It certainly wasn't always that way.

The Message Behind Smoker's Cough

This new kind of cough is smoker's cough. Every heavy smoker gets it eventually.  Even a light smoker is apt to. There is one important thing you should know about this cough. Regular coughing due to smoking tells you something is irritating your breathing passages and possibly causing some damage. Smoker's cough tells you the damage has already been done!

Have you ever watched barnacles under water? Tiny little “hands” come out, wave in the current, and capture food. There are tiny fibers in your air passages that operate something like that. These fibers are called cilia. They don't capture food, but they help capture and eliminate irritants, germs, and other foreign matter that would otherwise be headed for your bronchial tubes and lungs. These irritants become captured in phlegm, which is in turn pushed up the throat by the cilia to where it can be swallowed. The foreign substances will then end up in your stomach, where they can do no harm, and not in the lungs, where they can.

What has happened? Smoking destroys or damages the cilia, impairing their function. When the cilia can no longer move phlegm up to where it can be swallowed, it has to be coughed up, and that is what smoker's cough is doing. The cough tells you that you have damaged or destroyed cilia, which play an important role in protecting the body, and especially the lungs, from harmful substances.  The cough is saying that you have put your body, and your health, at greater risk for illness and infection, since an important defense mechanism has been damaged or destroyed. You are now less capable of dealing with toxins that enter the body than was once the case.

A Wake Up Call To Do Something

Smoker's cough should be a wake up call, telling you to stop smoking now, not next Monday or on your next birthday. It is a somewhat late wake up call, but a wake-up call nonetheless. If there is a silver lining, it's that once one quits smoking permanently, the body slowly begins to heal itself. This can include healing cilia that have been damaged but not permanently killed. The air passages begin to heal, and some of the protection to the lungs that smoking had compromised begins to return. In addition of course, once smoking ceases, the body no longer has to contend with the toxins contained in tobacco smoke.

Quitting smoking isn't easy. Not many can succeed in doing so on the first try, and most have to quit a half-dozen times or more before eventually quitting for good. It may sometimes help someone quit smoking if that person realizes just what smoker's cough is all about. It's not just something that is a side effect of smoking, it's a signal that damage has been done, and it's time to stop doing more of it. It's an issue of good health versus poor health, and believe it or not, the road back to good health starts in a matter of days after one has quit smoking for good.