I'm an ex-smoker (for roughly 8 years) and have recently, in the last 4 months, started a fairly intense cardio regimen that I'm doing twice a day.

I noticed while running that I'm having to constantly clear my throat. There is no phlem or mucus and I'm not coughing but I have to "clear it" and once I do it comes back a minute or two later and I'm having to do the same thing.

Does this sound like my lungs cleaning/repairing themselves or could this be indicative of something else?

Has anyone else experienced this before?

  • 1
    Take a look at medhelp.org/posts/Smoking-Addiction/…. It looks like this is a fairly common problem and could be due to either gastric issues or post-nasal drip as a result of the smoking habit. I advise that you check with your doctor. If you're really not producing anything, it's likely that your throat actually has a source of irritation and clearing your throat might be the equivalent of treating a patch of itchy skin by just scratching when it might be something serious. Oct 21 '14 at 13:31
  • That's true. :) Your question was reasonable, since not everyone is aware that running generally generates phlegm, but if you're experiencing the irritation without phlegm, that sounds more like a general medical problem, which is largely out of scope for this site, although people have mentioned sore throats from running as seen in fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/6037/… Oct 21 '14 at 14:33
  • I believe silent reflux is your problem go to an ENT for an endoscopy
    – user20075
    Apr 17 '16 at 15:21
  • I don't think we know enough about the OP to offer specific medical advice. How about "this could be caused by silent reflux, an endoscopy could tell for sure"? Good suggestion though.
    – Noumenon
    Apr 17 '16 at 17:00
  • I also experience this, I only smoked for a year or two and quit about 5 months ago. When I do any cardio I have the feeling of phlegm around my gag re flux but and swallowing feels like it should get rid of it but does nothing. Neither does blowing my nose/coughing. I have never coughed any phlegm up. The only form of relief is pouring warm water in my sinuses(this only provides temporary relief, problem will come back in minuets and sometimes this does nothing). I sometimes have this feeling even when I'm not running but i will for sure get it when I do. Have you found any other form of reli
    – Abby
    Dec 6 '16 at 19:02

I can't really understand how you need to clear your throat though if you don't have phlegm; what exactly are you clearing? Is it just a dry cough response (cold air?), or are you actually spitting something up?

Phlegm production when doing cardio-type activities is pretty normal. Most cyclists and runners are hocking lugies everywhere. When I was running a lot, I used to look forward to coming back from a head cold because I knew I would spitting up a quart of grossness on the streets. Effective "snot rocket" management is typical, and most cycling gloves even have terry cloth patches on them which primarily get used for wiping the residue off from a misfired rocket.

A little gross, but it's true.

Some people can do things like reducing their dairy consumption to cut down on phlegm, but personally I don't care that much and have just gotten used to it.

On days where I figured it would be worse than normal (like coming back from a head cold) I would tuck a couple of folded paper towels into my waist band. Ten minutes into my run I'd blow all that crap out of me, clean up, and keep charging.

  • Thanks for the response. I don't think it's cold air because it mainly happens on the treadmill in my basement where it's warm. And I'm not sure whether or not it's a dry cough response (because there is no cough) or if there is phlegm because I usually clear my throat and then swallow and don't spit anything out, but it doesn't feel like anything is there just a feeling of my throat not being clear. Given my history do you think this could be my body purging itself of the tars I have accumulated?
    – user7647
    Oct 20 '14 at 18:15
  • @Adrift I'd be relying on my non-existent medical degree to comment on that, but it really is pretty normal to be spitting and hacking garbage up everywhere when you run. Try to suck it up and spit it out (maybe running outside instead of the treadmill, as to not gross out your family).
    – Eric
    Oct 20 '14 at 18:17