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Why Does Smoking Weed Cause Coughing & How to Prevent It?

A coughing fit after smoking weed or cannabis is a natural response to smoke inhalation.

Sometimes coughing occurs even while not smoking and it happens in those who smoke weed or cannabis regularly.

People who smoke weed once in a week have coughing, wheezing, and phlegm all of which are signs of allergic bronchitis. Researchers have found that it increases the risk of coughing up phlegm and wheezy constricted breathing.(1)

Why Does Smoking Weed Cause Coughing?

The throat and the lungs are lined with sensory nerves and their function is to detect irritants like smoke present in the airway.

Why Does Smoking Weed Cause Coughing & How to Prevent It?

When an irritant is inhaled, the signals are sent throughout the respiratory tract and ultimately the lungs.

Weed Damages Lung

Coughing caused due to cannabis in adults is due to short-term damage.

Smoking cannabis can cause tiny injuries to airways or bronchi.(2) Bronchi are the passages that connect the trachea to the lungs.

Regular smoking of weed can increase the risk of chronic bronchitis or inflamed bronchi that can cause frequent coughing. This coughing usually stops as the frequency of weed in reduced or it is discontinued.

Habitual smoking can decrease the cilia airway. Cilia are small hair that filters out particles and germs.

Smoking regularly can reduce lung defence against infection but is not associated with long term damage.(2)

A study was done to find a link between smoking cannabis and long-term lung damage but no adverse lung function related to it was observed.(3) The effect of heavy smoking was also speculated but could not reach a solid conclusion.

Smoking cannabis and tobacco are associated with lasting lung damage. In a study it was found people who smoked cannabis and tobacco had impaired lung function than those who smoked only tobacco.(4)

Smoking Cannabis And Lung Cancer

Cannabis smoke contains 110 compounds that are potentially toxic.(5) 69 of these compounds are found in tobacco also. Therefore concluding that smoking cannabis can lead to cancer is difficult.

The researches done show mixed results. A 2015 meta-analysis found a link between long term cannabis smoking and lung cancer.(6) An older study, done in 2006 shows no link between long-term smoking and lung cancer.(7) A study done in 2013, found that frequently smoking cannabis doubles the risk of lung cancer.(8)

It is difficult to establish a link between cannabis and lung cancer as other behaviors are included along with smoking weed that includes cigarette smoke.(9) These are also known to increase the lung cancer risk.

Lung cancer can lead to coughing along with other symptoms such as

How To Prevent Coughing Linked to Smoking Cannabis?

For those who smoke cannabis, there are several ways to minimize coughing:

  1. Take Smaller Doses: Small doses of cannabis can reduce the smoke that enters the airway at once.
  2. Inhale Deeply: Inhaling deeply would prevent the smoke from staying in the throat that can cause coughing.
  3. Inhale and Exhale Softly: Avoid inhaling and exhaling forcefully. Even if you try to inhale deeply, do it gently.
  4. Drink Water: Drinking water before and after smoking can minimize the irritation caused in the throat due to smoke.

How To Soothe An Irritated Throat?

There are a few ways to soothe an irritated throat such as:

  • Gargle With Salt Water: Saltwater gargle is an easy way to discomfort pain and irritation in the throat. You can make it by mixing ¼ or ½ teaspoon of salt with 4-8 ounces of warm water.
  • Drink Warm Liquid: Drinking warm liquids such as broth or caffeine-free tea can also relieve throat soreness.
  • Eat Hard Candy: Sucking on candy can increase saliva production and ease coughing.
  • Use a Humidifier: Humidifier reduces dryness in air that can worsen coughing
  • Take a Break: Limit smoking cannabis for some time until the throat feels better.

Cannabis smoke affects the lungs and can cause long-term damage. This can lead to chronic coughing, phlegm, and wheezing. The symptoms can go away if you quit smoking cannabis.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 19, 2021

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