I am currently recovering from the flu virus from hell, which has really knocked me out. I still have a terrible, hacking cough and continue to wheeze a bit (although it is getting a little less each day). It makes me so glad I no longer smoke, or it would no doubt be worse and take a lot longer to get rid of. It does sound like the typical smoker’s cough, as if I am on about sixty Gauloises per day! I am well used to the sound of the smoker’s cough (I had a partner who was a very heavy smoker, and his coughing and his snoring were both loud enough to register on the Richter scale!)
The typical smoker’s cough is a persistent one and is usually worse upon waking up, due to the build-up of phlegm in the lungs, while improves over the course of the day. The reason for the coughing is that the airways are lined with cilia, tiny hair-like cells which catch toxins in the air and move them back up towards the mouth. Smoking paralyses these cilia so they can’t work properly, and instead of being caught in transit, the toxins are able to enter the lungs, where they can settle and cause inflammation. Then this in turn leads to the coughing, as the lungs attempt to clear themselves of these substances. During the night the cilia cells begin to repair themselves, as they are not at this time being exposed to the toxins in the smoke. So since their job is to catch and remove the accumulated toxins, this results in an increase in coughing on waking up in the morning.
Constant smoking of cigarettes also causes a build-up of tar in the lungs, which fills the alveoli (air-sacs) and would literally cause the smoker to drown, which is why they cough, to clear it. So a flu virus combined with being a smoker usually means a cough like a dog’s bark, and very painful! It often does really hurt my chest when I cough, so I can only imagine the pain heavy smokers are in.
Apparently you are much more likely to catch colds and flu, if you smoke, as it weakens your immune system, and stops the Vitamin C (the anti-infective vitamin) in your diet from being absorbed. It will also take much longer to recover from a bug. That also applies if you are in an environment where you are passively smoking as it is affecting you the same way. I am asthmatic and had very weak, wheezy lungs when I was younger, although they do not seem to be so bad now. I am trying to keep them as clean and healthy as I can from now on, so I avoid passive smoking as well (That is a lot easier now that smoking has been banned in public places in Britain).
I mentioned above that my former partner snored like a train, and I gather that smoking also contributes to snoring (he saw a medical specialist about it, who told him the smoking was making his snoring worse!) So that is another health problem that can be solved, or reduced, by quitting smoking.
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