No Butts about It: Quit Smoking to Relieve Heartburn
If you are a long term tobacco user, then there is a distinct possibility that you are already dealing with chronic heartburn and GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. While treatment options like fundoplication can reverse the cause of frequent heartburn by repairing the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a lot of GERD surgeons are hesitant to perform such operations on people who use tobacco regularly. While Dr. John Bagnato might make an exception, it is time to put away the tobacco if you are serious about overcoming your heartburn.
Most smokers aren’t too surprised to learn that cigarettes can prompt heartburn. Since smoking involves physically inhaling smoke, one would expect that the practice could result in symptoms like heartburn over time. However, a lot of people don’t realize that tobacco use in general is related to heartburn. This includes pipe tobacco, cigars, chew and snuff.
Tobacco use increases your risk of heartburn a few different ways, such as:
- Increased production of stomach acid.
- Further irritation of the esophageal lining.
- Lowered pressures on the LES, impairing the functionality of the stomach valve.
- Reduced production of saliva, which is responsible for neutralizing digestive juices and pushing acid out of the esophagus as you swallow.
In fact, since those who use chewing tobacco are generally exposed to the toxin all day and not just in short bursts like with cigarette or cigar smoking, chewing tobacco is potentially linked with a greater risk of GERD than is smoking.
Quitting Tobacco Can Relieve Heartburn
A lot of experts agree that regular tobacco users are likely to feel relief from chronic heartburn after just a few days of being tobacco free. Even those who simply cut down on their tobacco use can often experience a bit of reprieve from the lingering pain of heartburn, though for the best results it is recommended to cut use entirely.
The problem that a lot of former tobacco users experience is that after years of regular abuse to your esophagus, the damage is already done. While stopping further tobacco use will prevent any more damage from developing in the esophagus, it is often hard for the esophageal lining to heal itself from so much abuse.
This is not to say that you should not bother quitting if you have been smoking a long time. The health benefits of quitting smoking go far beyond a bit of heartburn relief. If you have smoked for years and don’t benefit from heartburn relief after just a few days, don’t despair. There are other ways to achieve heartburn relief that living a tobacco free life will make you a candidate for.
Quitting tobacco is hard, but it is one of the greatest steps that you can take towards living a healthier lifestyle. There are plenty of resources available throughout Macon and all of Georgia to help you quit smoking. For help, tips and support call the Georgia Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (7867).