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Why Am I Coughing after Quitting Smoking?

Quitting smoking is a process, and not every step of that process is going to be smooth. You will notice the withdrawal symptoms and effects of nicotine cravings as you continue to abstain from days and weeks and months. But what you may have wondered about why you are coughing so much.

Some people assume that once they stop smoking, they will stop coughing, as coughing is often a byproduct of inhaling smoke regularly. This is known as smoker’s cough. But what about the cough that starts appearing after you stop smoking? That is a different kind of cough altogether.

This cough is a result of your body healing, and it is natural for your body to react like this. You see, as the nicotine leaves your system and your body tries to regenerate, the tiny projections along the inside of your respiratory tract are recovering. These are called cilia, and they are small and thin and look something like little hairs.

Once you stop smoking, these cilia start regenerating. As they grow, they cause small disturbances along your respiratory tract. This in turn makes you cough. So that coughing is a healthy sign that your body is recovering and trying to get back to normal.

That's Not the only reason someone might start coughing as they quit smoking. Your body is also getting rid of toxins, and sometimes it does that through your respiratory tract. Your throat and lungs are going to feel the irritation of trying to expel the toxins from the cigarettes. When that happens, coughing is inevitable.

But don't just assume that just because you are coughing, it has to do with quitting smoking. If the cough is persistent and particularly vigorous, then you may need to see a doctor. You definitely want to see someone if the coughing starts to involve expelling blood. It is possible that your lungs are damaged or that you have lung cancer. These are all byproducts of smoking, and coughing may be an early sign that something is wrong there.


So you definitely don't want to ignore the coughing. In many cases, it is natural and is a result of your body healing. But stronger, more persistent coughs can be causes for alarm. Even without a serious cough, it is a good idea to have yourself checked out after you quit smoking.

You should go for a checkup after you have quit for a few weeks. During this checkup your doctor can assess the damage to your lungs and respiratory tract. The doctor will be able to tell you if your body is healing like it should or if there is serious long-term damage caused by the smoking. The longer and more often you smoked, the more damage there is likely to be.

Keep in mind that not everyone will experience the same symptoms as they quit smoking. Everyone is bit different, so it is possible that you could experience little to no coughing at all. That’s fine too, and it doesn't mean your body is healing at a slower rate or that something is wrong. It could just mean that the cilia re-growing aren't affecting you as much as it does some other people.

Still, you do want to make sure you are healing okay and that the toxins are leaving your body. Have yourself checked out and make sure the doctor thoroughly examines your lungs. That’s where smoking does the most damage, and you want to be sure that any major problems are caught before they can become very serious.

17 Responses to "Why Am I Coughing after Quitting Smoking?"

  • xyz
    March 2, 2016 - 8:18 am Reply

    I’m 17 years old .I smoked 5-6 cig. in 2 weeks , and then I quit . It’s been 3 weeks since I quit , and I’ve been coughing blood in morning initially , but now it got better , there is no blood in my cough . But still there is a lot of cough production . i do not want to go to a doctor , as I don’t want my dad to get to know about this . Plss I’m tiered of coughs . I realized my mistake and quit it . And will never go back with it again . I want to heal to the fullest .

    • Tiago
      March 15, 2016 - 5:20 pm Reply

      You are 17 years old and you smoked for 2 weeks… Trust me man, smoking has nothing to do with the blood in your cough. Certainly it did not help, but you’re too young and the amount of time you smoked wasn’t enough to do any kind of damage to your lungs. Go to a doctor ASAP, as it could be something serious. If you’re worried about it, you don’t even have to mention the smoking part, as it really has nothing to do with it.

    • Anon
      August 14, 2016 - 5:22 am Reply

      No, you’re 12 and wasting time on the internet, get back to your schoolwork kiddo.

  • Ace
    March 5, 2016 - 9:56 pm Reply

    I am not a medical professional, but your post concerns me. I don’t think that the smoking or quiting smoking has anything to do with you coughing up blood. I know you said that the blood has stopped, but the coughing hasn’t. I have been a smoker for 16 years and have quit several times. Never in my life have I coughed up blood. I believe that you could have a much more serious problem buddy. You should go to the doctor and if your dad goes in with you, just don’t mention the smoking unless you feel that there is no other choice but to do so. If there is a major problem, the doctor will be able to find it regardless. Definitely tell the doctor about the blood. Trust me, when he hears that, he us going to do everything possible to find your problem. One the other hand, even though you are not 18 years old, you can still ask your dad to wait in the waiting room too. It’s natural for peoples your age to begin asking for privacy and most parents understand that. I’m just really worried about you man. Get it checked out.

    Best Wishes,

  • Dr Moktar Zebi
    March 18, 2016 - 5:26 am Reply


    This is due to smoking, your body is just too weak that’s all. Give it a few more day’s and you will be fine.


  • Mandy
    April 15, 2016 - 2:50 pm Reply

    I just quit smoking about 4 weeks ago and I have been coughing up flem should i get checked out

    • Mandy
      April 15, 2016 - 2:52 pm Reply

      Mind u I’ve been smoking since I was 8 and went through 4 pack a day

      • Concerned
        June 29, 2016 - 5:33 pm Reply

        Where were your parents at 8!?

  • Pat
    April 22, 2016 - 12:15 am Reply

    I stopped 3 week’s ago and I have a really bad cough . it keeps me up all night. I need some help I quit cold turkey. I feel like my lungs are hurting. Please give me a tip to get rid of it.

    • Winston
      July 2, 2016 - 7:41 pm Reply

      Some cough is expected as your respitory track is repairing but it won’t Keep you from sleeping at night, it is best to go to the doctor and get it checked.

  • Jayme Loudermilk
    April 23, 2016 - 1:31 pm Reply

    I’m 47 yo, I started smoking ,on a regular, at age 16. I have tried quitting several times. The longest was 3 mos, others were only for weeks.😩
    I recently, about a month ago, started the nicotine patches, they are working. I do still have only 3-5 figs a day tho.( I take the patch off first).
    My concern is this awful annoying cough a have, always productive as I did when smoking my usual pack a day. I is allergy season and I have PND. I have coughed until I throw up clear thin mucus or phelm, this occurs mostly at night after lying in bed.

    Please advised

    • Joe
      August 29, 2016 - 1:31 pm Reply

      Jayme I’m 47 as well and I have been smoking since I was 16 also. I stopped smoking 8 moths ago cold turkey. I’m not gonna lie it was a miserable couple of months because of withdrawal sypmtoms. I can tell you it was the best thing I ever did. I exercise three to four days a week to avoid the weight gain. Sorry to sound conceited but I look and feel great. My skin has cleared up my teeth are no longer yellow. I no longer suffer from sinus problems and my breathing is pretty normal even my sex life much better. Hands down its the best decision I ever made. Don’t give up keep trying to quit you will love the smoke free life. I will never go back!

    May 24, 2016 - 9:53 pm Reply


    • Rick
      July 6, 2016 - 12:08 am Reply

      Second this. I’m only 9 days into quitting and have been coughing like crazy the last 2 days.

      Halls helps a whole bunch.

  • Sedfrey
    June 9, 2016 - 1:51 pm Reply

    Sedfrey 20 i smoked for 6 years and now i decided to quit and it has been a week now but i noticed that my throat is itchy as hell and im coughing up really bad. Itried water theraphy and i kept on drinking warm beverages.
    Will my throat be ok?

  • Alex
    July 21, 2016 - 4:40 am Reply

    I was 14 when i started smoking. I have smoked for 3 years 1,5 pack per day. When i saw that i was coughing really badly at nights i quitted smoking. It has been 1 year since i quitted smoking and i still hear a little whizzling noise in my lungs and i still caugh just just mildly when i need to clear my throat. I sometime caugh something that looks like a tiny piece of slime. Any ideas?

  • Ernie
    August 12, 2016 - 12:51 am Reply

    I’m 37 & I have been smoking for the past 18 years. I smoked a pack a day. 2 weeks ago, I quit cold turkey. This is the 3rd time I try but the first time I try cold turkey. Not as difficult as I thought the first couple of days but now I get very jittery and anxious. The part that is most annoying is the dry cough all day. For the past past 5 years I’ve had the occasional dry cough but now like this. I’ve read on some forums that the coughing after quitting is somewhat normal. My question is after how long should I start to worry??

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