Should I Be Worried About Coughing Black Phlegm If I Smoke?

Every smoker knows that smoking can cause cancer – it’s impossible to ignore the graphic warning images on cigarette packs! Even teen smokers worry about the risk of cancer, but most simply convince themselves that they will quit smoking before it starts to pose any “real problem”. Unfortunately, smoking starts to do its damage swiftly, quickly creating addiction and before you know it you are coughing up black phlegm. To most smokers, whether habitual or social, this can be alarming and many immediately wonder if it is a sign of cancer. But, what does it actually mean if you cough up black phlegm?

What Black Phlegm Means For A Smoker

“High tar & aluminum content from tobacco accumulates in the lungs of smokers, causing black phlegm; while not a symptom of cancer, it means that these harmful chemicals have already started to impair respiration”

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals – out of which hundreds are toxins and many are carcinogens (cancer-causing), so yes, a smoker would obviously worry that black phlegm might be a symptom of cancer. Studies have determined that both tobacco and cannabis have a high aluminum content, which leads to a buildup in the lungs of smokers, coating the airways like the bronchioles. This damage starts from your very first smoke, which is why occasional smoking too can cause damage.

The “good news” is that black phlegm is not a sign of cancer, but it means that a lot of these harmful compounds have already accumulated in your lungs, clogging the airways. So, although you don’t need to panic about lung cancer just yet, black phlegm in a smoker should be taken as a wake-up call to quit smoking. After all, if you have enough tar and poisonous compounds in your system to turn your phlegm black, you can only imagine what the insides of your lungs are like!

What If I Just Quit Smoking?

“Black phlegm after quitting is actually a sign of healthy recovery, as it means that microscopic hairs in the lungs (cilia), are beginning to function again, clearing the mucus & tar buildup from within the airways”

Cigarette smoking harms almost every organ in your body, reduces overall health of smokers, and drastically increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other conditions. Smokers who quit smoking often begin to cough up black phlegm soon after kicking the butt, which once again sets off those alarm bells. But, in this scenario, spitting out black mucus is actually a good thing, as each time you spit it out, it means you have that much less tar and toxins in your system. In fact, experts say that the cough and black phlegm expulsion that occurs after quitting is a sign that your body is starting to heal. After you kick the butt, microscopic hairs in the lungs (cilia), begin to function again, clearing the mucus and tar buildup from within the airways. Gradually, you will notice that your phlegm color starts to return to normal.

If you’re still worried, you can also try some simple remedies for black phlegm, using steam inhalation and yoga breathing exercises like pranayamas, as this will help to loosen up the tar deposits. In case, the problem persists or is accompanied by a persistent cough or blood, you should consult your doctor immediately, as it could indicate a more serious respiratory problem.

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