I quit smoking so why do my lungs hurt?

Quitting smoking is the most significant thing you can do to improve your health. Your body will begin to heal itself just minutes after you smoke your last cigarette. But you could find that you feel worse rather than better in the days and weeks after you stop smoking. You could experience a range of annoying side effects, including a persistent cough.

Why do you cough when you smoke?
You will already know that smoking makes you cough, especially when you laugh or engage in exercise. This is because cigarette smoke contains many nasty chemicals that are toxic. These damage the cilia in your lungs. Cilia are tiny nodules that act as a filtration system. They move around when you breathe and are coated with a thin layer of mucus. Your smoking habit causes your body to create more mucus than it otherwise would, and this can become very gloopy.
The gloopy mucus clogs your cilia and that is why you tend to cough when you are a smoker. Coughing is your body’s mechanism for clearing the mucus, but it can be so claggy that it just won’t shift.

Why are you still coughing after you have quit?
Your lungs start to repair themselves after you stop smoking and the process begins almost immediately. Your cilia begin to regenerate, and your lungs won’t be impacted by further nasty toxins. Mucus production eventually drops to normal levels. However, your lungs will continue to work hard to eject any mucus that has already accumulated. When you cough up that phlegm, it feels unpleasant, but it is a sign that the process of repair is underway.

If your symptoms persist, you should see your doctor, just to make sure that what you are experiencing is a consequence of quitting smoking and not an unrelated issue.

Can you ease your symptoms?
If you are coughing continually, it might feel as if your lungs are aching with all that effort. There are few pain receptors in your lungs and so they cannot process pain. It isn’t your lungs that are aching, it’s your muscles that are begging for mercy!

It is important to remain hydrated as this will ensure that any mucus remains loose and easier to cough up. Treat yourself to a spoonful of honey if your throat hurts and remind yourself that your annoying cough will be temporary. It is a sign that your lungs are healing themselves and that is really good news.

How do you remain on track?
Quitting smoking is hard enough without the arrival of various aches and pains. You mustn’t allow temporary symptoms to cause you to return to smoking.  Any coughing and associated aching will soon start to ease, and you will be breathing more freely before you know it. It’s all too easy to use any side effects of quitting as an excuse to smoke again and so you must keep your eye on the prize. Saying goodbye to your cigarettes is the single most important thing you can do for your health.