There is no doubt about the toughness of quitting smoking. This is especially true when you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. In fact, many people begin to cough more after they quit, thanks to the phlegm that your body is trying to eliminate. If after quitting smoking, coughing up mucus is happening all the time, your body is just working to eliminate the toxins that have built up in your lungs over the years. This coughing is actually a good thing!

Causes of Phlegm After Quitting Smoking


After quitting smoking, coughing up mucus is very common. When you smoke, impurities build up in the lungs. These chemicals cause the cilia, or the natural filters in your lungs, to go dormant. There is just too much for them to fight.

But when you stop smoking, the cilia can begin working again – and they do! They start flushing out all those toxins in your lungs. The result is serious phlegm after quitting smoking – so much of it that you might feel as though you cough more after you quit than you did when you were smoking.

The phlegm is often brown and sticky, rather nasty-looking, and can make you feel as though your nasal cavities and sinuses are clogged with it. The process might go on for several months until your lungs are rid of all those impurities. No matter how much the phlegm from smoking bothers you, remember that your body is healing itself – and that’s a good thing.

Remedies for Phlegm After Quitting Smoking

Despite the fact that the phlegm after quitting smoking is actually a good sign, it can be very annoying. There are ways to relieve the symptoms and help your body continue to heal.

Don’t Fight the Cough

When you cough up phlegm, your body is pushing out all those toxins that could make you very sick. Spit the phlegm into a tissue each time you cough and throw it away. Never swallow the phlegm, as that just keeps the toxins in your body.


Try Lemon

Lemon cuts through mucus and phlegm and that’s why it works so well in cough drops. Mix several slices of lemon with a tablespoon of honey and steep them in warm water. Drink the mixture as soon as it is cool enough to do so. If you are brave enough, you can also sprinkle salt on a lemon slice and suck on the slice to help clear your throat.


Inhale Steam

Steam can break up the phlegm from smoking and ease your breathing. Pour boiling water into a bowl – be very careful! Wrap a towel around your head and drape it over the bowl so that you are surrounded by the steam. Take deep breaths! You can make it more pleasant by adding essential oils, such as lemon or eucalyptus.


Drink Chicken Soup

Used by mothers for decades, chicken soup has great properties that will help break up the phlegm after quitting smoking. Make a point of drinking chicken soup at least once a day and boost the effectiveness by adding ginger or garlic. Homemade soup is always the best.


Gargle with Salt Water

Concentrated phlegm from smoking can coat your throat and make you feel awful. Gargling with a quarter teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water can help break up that nasty feeling.


Avoid Dairy and Fried Foods

Dairy products contain casein which is a protein that can create more mucus in the body. Avoid dairy products while you are coughing. In addition, the grease from fried foods can make it tough to break up the phlegm, so avoid those too.

When to See a Doctor


Phlegm after quitting smoking is actually a normal thing and not usually a problem. However, remember that all those toxins did build up for a while, and they can still cause serious health problems. If you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to the phlegm from smoking, talk to your doctor immediately:

  • Coughing up blood

  • A cough that gets worse

  • Trouble breathing that might progress to wheezing

  • Sounding and feeling hoarse

  • Chest pain, even when not coughing

  • Little to no appetite

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Losing weight for no apparent reason

  • Frequent bronchial or lung infections

Remember that smoking puts you at a higher risk, so take any problem seriously. Speak to your doctor throughout the process of quitting smoking to ensure a healthier and happier outcome.


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