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why do you cough up mucus when you quit smoking

Cigarette smoking damages the lungs in a variety of ways. Quitting smoking, on the other hand, results in healing within the lungs and favorable changes that decrease the risk of disease. Improvements to lung function and reversal of damage begin to take place almost immediately when you stop smoking, and these benefits continue for years -- an example of the human bodyвs remarkable ability to heal itself. The sooner you quit, the better the chance for reversing the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs. Tiny hairlike projections on the surface of the lungs and airways -- called cilia -- clear mucus and debris from the lungs. Cilia are damaged by tobacco smoke, rendering them unable to effectively clear particles and move mucus through the airways. Cilia begin to
within weeks after quitting smoking, with continued improvement for at least several months.


This change typically leads to decreased coughing and fewer respiratory infections due to cleaner airways throughout the lungs. Smoking causes of the airway walls, leading to of these walls and increased mucus production. Inflammation is a key component of smoking-related lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. After quitting smoking, airway inflammation diminishes, improving disease symptoms and leading to fewer lung infections. Additionally, when the airways return to a normal thickness, lung function improves as well. This enables the oxygen the lungs take in from the air to be more easily be moved to other parts of the body. A key feature of COPD is an inability to efficiently move air in and out of the lungs.


Quitting smoking allows the small airways within the lungs to become more elastic. Improved elasticity permits the lungs to hold more oxygen-rich air as it is breathed in. Emptying the lungs while exhaling is also more effective, and this allows for more efficient expulsion of carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of normal metabolism -- from the body. Improved lung function can lead to an increased capacity for exercise and physical work. The heightened risk of lung cancer in people who smoke is due to of lung cells caused by the chemicals in tobacco smoke. Damage to lung cells builds up over time, and eventually can lead to a cancerous tumor. Stopping smoking gives lung cells a chance to repair already-sustained genetic damage -- and additional damage from ongoing exposure to tobacco smoke is avoided. The risk of lung cancer falls within of quitting. after quitting, lung cancer risk decreases by one-third to one-half compared to people who continue to smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk of disease. If you are ready to quit, and want help or support, talk with your doctor to learn more about counseling, support groups or medications that can help you stay tobacco-free. Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD Rigotti NA. Benefits and risks of smoking cessation. http://www. uptodate. com/home. Accessed Dec. 18, 2015. Smoke-free living: Benefits and milestones. American Heart Association. http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/YourNon-SmokingLife/Smoke-free-Living-Benefits-Milestones_UCM_322711_Article. jsp#.


VnhFJnlIgdU. Dec. 21, 2015. Gratziou C. Respiratory, cardiovascular and other physiological consequences of smoking cessation. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2009;25:535. How is cough treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www. nhlbi. nih. gov/health/health-topics/topics/cough/treatment. Accessed Dec. 21, 2015. Silvestri RC, et al. Evaluation of subacute and chronic cough in adults. http://www. uptodate. com/home. Accessed Dec. 21, 2015. Rodrigues FMM, et al. Nasal and systemic inflammatory profile after short term smoking cessation. Respiratory Medicine. 2014;108:99. Tashkin DP, et al. Lung function and respiratory symptoms in a 1-year randomized smoking cessation trial of varenicline in COPD patients. Respiratory Medicine. 2011;105:1682.

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