Acid Reflux and Smoking

Acid reflux and smoking have a strong correlation. So, if warnings from the Surgeon General weren’t enough to make you kick the habit, then this should be a very good reason to start. If you have acid reflux and you’re also a smoker, you have more than one reason to quit.

It goes without saying that tobacco, in any form, is bad for your health but if you combine acid reflux and smoking (which, in short, is SEVERE heartburn) , your reasons to quit are even greater and more urgent.

Whether your vice comes in the form of snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars or cigarettes, you are only complicating your heartburn issues each time you indulge. In fact, the difference between experiencing the symptoms of the disease and being free from pain can be found in the ability of the individual to quit their tobacco habit completely.

Smoking, like many of the other things that “trigger” acid reflux causes the LES (lower esophageal sphincter), to relax. This causes the acidic contents of the stomach to splash back into the esophagus That acid, which is naturally intended to help breakdown food in the stomach, is what causes complications.

The stomach is designed to hold the acid. The esophagus, which is where pain occurs, is not. In spite of all the negative effects that tobacco has on a person’s health, most experts agree that “quitting” a habit is easier said than done. They also agree that, since acid reflux and smoking are related, the use of tobacco, of any kind, can worsen any symptoms because it:

  • Reduces the amount of saliva that your body produces. This is problematic because saliva helps push acid down out of the esophagus into the stomach where it belongs. Saliva also carries a natural acid neutralizer, called bicarbonate, that, when present, helps prevent or extinguish heartburn symptoms. Smoking can reduce its availability by up to fifty percent. In a nutshell, you need saliva to keep heartburn at bay and smoking keeps your body from producing enough of it.

  • Increases the amount of acid that is produced by the stomach.

  • Weakens the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) causing it to be less effective at keeping acid in the stomach.

Any product that contains nicotine can be expected to worsen your acid reflux. Prolonged usage can also increase the risk of esophageal and stomach cancer as areas exposed to acid begin to develop ulcers and other issues. Although giving up your tobacco habit may not “cure” your acid reflux symptoms , you will increase the likelihood that you will feel better because of your efforts. You might find the following tips helpful if you are trying to “kick the habit.”

  • Make your efforts known to your family and friends and let them know that their support is vital to your success.

  • Get rid of all the ashtrays, lighters and other reminders that are lying around your house. If you don’t have access to them you won’t be tempted to use them.

  • Make a list of all the reasons that you need to quit and keep it in a conspicuous place. Continue to refer to list as you need inspiration or help getting through a “low” spot.

  • Set goals and reward yourself (with something other than tobacco!!!) as you reach each one.

  • Keep in mind that nobody is perfect.

If you find that you can’t do it alone, talk to your doctor about the many different strategies that you have at your disposal. If you have yet to heed the warning of the surgeon general, perhaps your acid reflux will inspire to take the first step.

There is a close relationship between acid reflux and obesity A recent and staggering statistic was published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that approximately 61% of the American population is obese or overweight.

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