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The American Lung Association offers more information on this topic.

Smoking after you’ve had lung surgery is a major cause of postoperative complications. Smoking impairs lung function, so it’s not surprising to find that smokers are at higher risk for complications.

If you want to quit smoking, here are some tips:

  • Talk with your doctor. While you may be able to quit smoking on your own, he or she may be able to help you quit. Your doctor can give you help to quit on your own.
  • Get help from a coach. A coach can help you learn how to cope with stress so that you can successfully quit.
  • Get support from family and friends. If you have family or friends who smoke, try to get them to quit.

For people who have had lung surgery, smoking may also make it harder for them to get around safely.

If you smoke after having surgery, talk with your doctor. You may need to have your blood-oxygen levels checked before and after surgery. Your doctor may need to adjust your medicines. If you smoke, you may need to stop smoking or take medicines to help you quit.

How to manage your cough?

Most coughs go away after a few days. If you have a cough after surgery, here are some ways to help it go away:

  • Use a cough medicine. Ask your healthcare provider about the cough medicine that’s right for you.
  • Practice deep breathing. When you cough, try to breathe out for a few seconds, then back in for a few seconds.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight will help with your cough.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can make you feel tired and give you a cough.

When to Call the Doctor?

If your cough doesn’t go away after a few days or gets worse, call your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider can help you find a cough medicine that works for you. He or she can also help you learn how to breathe when you cough.

If your cough gets worse, you may need to see your healthcare provider. The doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms and ask you to describe when the cough started. He or she may also want to hear about any other symptoms you have.

Your healthcare provider may order tests to figure out what’s going on. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests. There may be an infection in your lungs. This is called a pulmonary infection. It may need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • Chest X-rays. This is a test to look at your lungs.
  • Pulmonary function tests. These test how well your lungs work.
  • Sputum culture. This test looks for bacteria in your sputum.
  • Bronchoscopy. This is a test that helps your doctor see inside your lungs.

How can you treat a cough at home?

If your cough is not going away after a few days or gets worse, you may need to see a doctor. Here are some tips for helping you cough up mucus:

  • Use a humidifier. This helps loosen mucus.
  • Take OTC cough medicines. These can help loosen mucus.
  • Use a steam or warm shower. This helps loosen mucus.
  • Try to stay away from irritants. If you smoke, try to quit.
  • Try to keep your head elevated. This helps keep mucus away from your lungs.
  • Quit smoking. The more you smoke, the more mucus you will produce.

Some cough medicines also help you get a better night’s sleep.

If your coughing is getting worse, you may need more intensive treatment. This includes:

  • Medicines. These help to loosen mucus.
  • Chest physiotherapy. This therapy uses a special machine to help move mucus out of your lungs.
  • Surgery. This is used to treat infections in your lungs.

What are the complications of a cough?

Coughing after lung surgery is a common complication. It can make it hard to breathe. It can also cause you to cough up blood. Other complications include:

  • Lung infection
  • Lung damage
  • Coughing up blood
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Coughing up mucus

What are the risks?

Coughing is a common symptom after lung surgery. However, it’s not the only symptom. You may also have:

  • Chest pain
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling very tired

Talk with your healthcare provider if you have a cough after your surgery. You may need to take certain medicines. You may also need to see a doctor.

Some of these complications are serious. See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Chest or back pain
  • Chills or fever that does not get better
  • Trouble breathing or coughing up blood
  • Swelling in your chest or abdomen

Take a deep breath

If your pain is severe and doesn’t go away after a few days, call your healthcare provider.

If you have a cough after surgery, you may need to have a chest X-ray. This is to see if there are any infections in your lungs.

If you smoke, you may need to quit. This can help prevent complications.

Take care

If you have a cough after surgery, you should do some of these things:

  • Take all of your medicines as directed.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Learn about your surgery. Ask your doctor about your recovery and what you can do to help you recover.
  • If you smoke, try to stop or quit. The more you smoke, the more mucus you will produce.
  • Always ask your healthcare provider if you should see a doctor.


The coughing you do after surgery is a normal reflex. It’s not a sign of an infection.

Most people start coughing within a few days after surgery. You may cough more than you did before surgery.

If you have coughs after surgery, you can help them go away by:

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