What to Expect: Coughing After Quitting

When you quit smoking, it’s normal to experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These can range from cravings and feeling irritable, all the way through to physical complaints including cold-like symptoms, headaches, and even constipation.

One symptom that some quitters develop is a cough. While less common than some other withdrawal symptoms, a cough can be a sign that your lungs are beginning to clean themselves, and it will typically pass after a few weeks. 

Why You Might Be Coughing

Our lungs are lined with tiny hairs, known as cilia, which sweep mucus and toxins out of the airwaves, helping to keep the lungs clean. This lining can be harmed by the toxins and chemicals contained within cigarette smoke, and the cilia can be damaged, paralysed, or even killed. 

When you quit smoking, the cilia begin to recover and become active again. In fact, they are one of the first things in your body to heal when you quit. As the cilia work to clear mucus from your lungs, you may find that you cough more than usual.

How to Deal with It

Although many quitters notice they cough more during their quitting journey, a chesty cough can also be a sign of Bronchitis or Emphysema. If your cough persists for over 3 weeks you should speak to your GP who can advise you further.

Whether you’re recovering from a chesty cough or trying to prevent one, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to help thin the mucus in your lungs and throat. Drinking hot water with lemon and honey can also help soothe your cough. 

2019 © Johnson & Johnson Limited
Nicorette® contains nicotine. Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. Always read the label. (12+ years).
This site is published by Johnson & Johnson Limited which is solely
responsible for its contents. It is intended for a UK audience.
Site last updated on 2 May 2019