Why Do I Have Brown Specks in Phlegm After Quitting Smoking?

a man coughing badly

While quitting smoking is good, at the same time, it comes with some side effects. Having brown specks in the phlegm is one of the common side effects associated with quitting smoking. It is quite common to have brown specks in your phlegm because it’s part of your body’s natural detoxification process.

The best way to help yourself in this situation is by drinking enough water and some other warm beverages. Some home remedies, like drinking a small quantity of honey and participating in some daily activities, may also help soothe your phlegm.

It is also important to know that some serious health conditions, like lung abscess and acute bronchitis, can also trigger brown specks in Phlegm. So, its best to contact your doctor once you notice any signs in your phlegm.

Is It Normal To Have Brown Specks in Phlegm After Quitting Smoking?

Yes, it is normal to notice brown specks in the phlegm after quitting smoking. This is because during the time you smoke, your lungs accumulate tar and other substances in your respiratory system. These substances can take time to clear out of your lungs, so when you quit smoking, your body begins the process of cleaning out these substances, and as a result, you may cough up mucus that contains brown particles.

This is a good sign because it shows that your body is working so hard to remove some toxic substances from your lungs. However, if you continue to see brown or discolored phlegm for a long period of time or have other serious or alarming symptoms, consult a healthcare professional immediately, as this may be a sign of another serious issue.

Other Causes of Brown Specks in Phlegm

Brown Specks in Phlegm

While having brown specks in your phlegm is a common symptom associated with quitting smoking, there are some other conditions that may cause this kind of symptom. They may include:

Polluted Environment

Exposure to polluted air, dust, or industrial fumes can lead to the inhalation of particles that may affect the phlegm. Staying in a polluted environment is very bad as it can cause many health issues, including irritation of the eyes, nose, skin, and throat, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and breathing difficulties. It can also increase the symptoms of lung disease, asthma attacks, and acute bronchitis, and it can also increase the chances of having respiratory infections.

Having Respiratory Infections

Having respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia can also cause brown specks in the phlegm. This is due to the presence of white blood cells and other inflammatory substances in the mucus. The lining of the lungs can be harmed by bacterial infections. The mucus in your upper airways may become tainted and appear brown as a result of bleeding, particularly if there is old blood still present in the lungs.

Lung abscess

A lung abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the lung tissue. It typically occurs as a result of a bacterial infection. It is mostly caused by bacteria, most commonly Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species. Common symptoms of a lung abscess can include long-lasting coughing; sometimes it may come with foul-smelling or bloody sputum; fever; chest pain; breathing problems; fatigue; and weight loss.

Lung abscesses require immediate treatment with antibiotics to target the underlying infection. Contact your doctor if you notice any of the listed symptoms of a lung abscess.

Chronic lung disease

Long-term smoking is frequently linked to chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, and emphysema, while hereditary problems like cystic fibrosis and interstitial lung disease can also result in brown mucus.

How To Treat Cough and Brown Phlegm At Home After Quitting Smoking

Below are some home remedies you can use to manage coughs and brown phlegm after quitting smoking.

  • Stay Hydrated Always: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated can help loosen mucus and make it easier to cough up.
  • Gargle With Warm Saltwater: Gargling with warm saltwater can alleviate throat irritation and help with coughing. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle several times a day.
  • Avoid Any Type of smoke: Stay away from smoke, strong odors, and other environmental irritants that can worsen your cough.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Consider using over-the-counter cough medicines or expectorants if recommended by your healthcare provider. Always follow the recommended dosage.
  • Contact Your Doctor: If your symptoms persist or worsen, or if you have concerns about the brown phlegm, contact your doctor.


The presence of brown specks in phlegm after quitting smoking is a normal part of the body’s healing process. These specks are typically remnants of tar and pollutants that accumulate in the lungs during smoking. When you quit smoking, your body starts to clear out these harmful substances, which can result in the coughing up of brown phlegm.


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