The Truth About Sinus Problems After Quitting Smoking

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Quitting smoking is one of the best health decisions you can make, so why do sinus troubles sometimes follow quitting? The good news is that your body is going to begin healing within hours of your last cigarette. The bad news…well, you’ve done damage, and the healing process isn’t always easy. One thing that some new ex-smokers experience is sinus issues immediately after quitting. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s common.

So what’s happening? In a healthy sinus system, the lining of the nose and sinuses are covered with cilia, tiny hair-like organs whose job is to move mucous around. Before you think of mucous as “gross,” remember, it’s critical to keeping systems lubricated and healthy. Imagine trying to run a car with no oil. It doesn’t work for long. When you breathe, the mucous catches particles such as dust, bacteria, and pollen and keeps them out of your respiratory system. The cilia move the dirty mucous out of the way, and when you occasionally clear your throat, that’s how you get rid of old.

However, smoking damages this system. When you light a cigarette, around 7,000 chemicals catch fire and start burning, sending smoke through your respiratory system, including your sinuses. The cilia are damaged, and the residue disrupts the mucous production. Smokers often experience chronic sinusitis because of the destruction of the natural system.

But, good news, you’ve quit! And the human body has remarkable resilience. Within a short time, the sinuses’ lining begins to clearing out the layers of residue, and a standard mucous layer gets back to lining your respiratory system. However, the cilia that move the mucous around take much longer to grow back. So you’ve got a whole lot of mucous and nowhere for it to go. Hence, your sinuses, nose, and even ears feel clogged and miserable. Clogged ears can even lead to vertigo-like symptoms. The cilia will grow back, but it takes about a month to grow and get back to work.

For most people, sinus issues are relatively minor. Your body will continue to heal and recover over time. However, if symptoms worsen, consult with your medical doctor. Just remember, this is a minor inconvenience in light of massive gains for your overall health.

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