Healthy cough

People trying to quit smoking often report an increase in coughing. That's entirely natural, according to Mike Wilson, a registered respiratory therapist with Health Management Services.

Certain chemicals in cigarette smoke sweep into the lungs and paralyze the cilia. When working properly, cilia clear the lungs of mucus and other secretions.

"Smoking prevents coughing and the secretions remain in the lungs," Mike said.

Why do smokers cough in the morning? Mike said that's because they haven't had a cigarette since going to bed the night before, so the cilia start doing the job they're supposed to do.

"The first cigarette in the morning stops the cilia and the coughing," he said.

When smokers quit, they have an accumulation of stuff in their lungs.

"The cilia wake up and sweep all the secretions into the throat and upper airways," Mike said.

The longer someone goes without smoking, the weaker the cough becomes. As the cilia become stronger, they're ability to clean the lungs and reduce infection increases.

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