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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Smoker's lung

Smoker's lung

Smoker's cough is a kind of cough seen especially in smokers. Any irritant present in the respiratory system may trigger cough, however, smoker's cough develops as a consequence of phlegm buildup in the trachea. Many long-term smokers end up beginning their day with hour-long bout of severe coughing.


It typically doesn’t affect new smokers but it will often bother people who smoke heavily, especially over a period of many years. It can also occur in people who are routinely exposed to other throat, nasal and lung irritants over a period of several years.


  • In the trachea, the walls are lined with cilia, small hairs that protrude from the tracheal epithelium.
  • They move in a synchronous wavelike motion, thereby moving foreign bodies trapped in phlegm upwards towards the oropharynx, so they may be swallowed.
  • Cigarette smoke destroys or paralyzes these cilia, so the only way that phlegm can be removed is via coughing.
  • When you go through periods of not smoking, like when you’re sleeping at night, your damaged cilia can’t move the phlegm up to your throat where you can swallow it.

  • Smoking does cause extra mucus to develop in order to get foreign toxins out of your lungs.

Symptoms of smokers cough

  • Cough is dry without any phlegmatic discharge.
  • There is a feeling of release of particles from respiratory tract
  • Raspy cough
  • Productive cough – white in color

  • Chronic coughing - worse in the morning

Why smoking is addictive?

  • Nicotine is the substance that makes smoking addictive and so hard for smokers to give up.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive comparable to cocaine or heroin and is naturally found in tobacco.
  • After a period of time, a smoker will start to build up a dependency as well as a tolerance to tobacco leading to an increase in the number of cigarettes needed to reach the same high first experienced.
  • But remember it’s clearly identified that smoking is one of the greatest cause of disease/illnesses and premature deaths.

Nicotine with drawl symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Coughing
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Lack of concentration
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Massive increase in appetite

The symptoms can be alleviated by nicotine substitutes like nicotine patch or gum.


Withdrawal symptoms will become weaker over time. That initial insatiable craving for a cigarette will quickly become a passing thought.

Is “smoker’s cough”- more serious complications?

The same noxious chemicals that cause the simple smoker's cough can lead to far more serious conditions such as


Ideal is to quit smoking.

Those who have smoked for many years, life expectancy are increased after quitting smoking.


Many smokers want to quit. Finding the method that is best to meet the individual needs and styles can be difficult.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy is the most common smoking cessation treatment and comes in many different forms (gum, patch, inhaler, or nasal spray).

NRT works by sustained and steady release of nicotine into the bloodstream at much lower levels than in a cigarette, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals.

This helps to control the cravings for a cigarette that occur when your body starts to miss the nicotine that smoking provides.

Non Nicotine smoking cessation treatment


Bupropion is a medication designed to help smoking cessation.

The mechanism is not understood completely, but it works on the brain pathways involved in addiction and withdrawal.

Side effects of Bupropion

  • Dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating
  • As taking Bupropion can cause drowsiness, and affect the ability to carry out skilled tasks, not to drive or operate machinery, while taking it.
  • Not suitable for pregnant and breast feeding women, under the age of 18, seizure/epilepsy, cirrhosis of liver.

Varenicline (Chantix)

Advantages of Chantix

  • Chantix works by preventing nicotine from binding to receptors (parts of your brain which respond to nicotine), which eases cravings and reduce the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking.
  • It does not provide nicotine like other nicotine replacement therapies
  • Chantix pill also reduce the intensity and frequency of withdrawal symptoms.


Side effects of Chantix

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia, drowsiness, dizziness,
  • Constipation or diarrhea.

Behavioral counseling

Individuals must be highly committed to his/her goal of quitting.

Smokers trying to quit need lots of support and encouragement

If you get an urge to smoke then go for a walk, a swim or head to the gym. Do something physical to keep you away from smoking.

Additional counseling may include stress management, weight control, and tips for preventing relapse, resistance to social pressure, and suggestions for resisting the temptation to light up.

Combined therapies

The most successful quitting programs use combinations of drug treatment and counseling and have good success rates.

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