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Smoking and Acid Reflux: Stop Today For a Better Tomorrow — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 2, 2008 at 1:45 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Smoking and Acid Reflux: Stop Today For a Better Tomorrow

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What Acid Reflux Does

Acid reflux is a chronic condition that occurs when a back flow of stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. When stomach acid is produced, it is used to digest the food that we consume during mealtime. However, if too large a meal is eaten, or eaten too quickly, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes at the wrong time, allowing for strong stomach juices to build up and overflow in the esophagus. This causes the burning sensation known as "heartburn". If acid reflux is left untreated, the symptoms can lead to more serious medical complications. The most effective way of managing the negative effects of acid reflux can be controlled by making changes in dietary and eating habits. Making changes in other daily habits, such as smoking, can also affect the severity and frequency of experiencing acid reflux.

Heartburn and Smoking

According to the November issue of the journal "Gut", people who have smoked for more than twenty years are seventy percent more likely to have acid reflux disease than nonsmokers would. The findings were based on two major public health surveys in the 1980s and 1990s, and based their findings on lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and tobacco use.

Barrett's Esophagus and Other Symptoms

The risk of the condition known as "Barrett's esophagus" has been associated with smoking, stating that a smoker's chances of contracting the symptoms are substantially increased. Smoking has also been linked to directly agitating acid reflux and by a long-lasting reduction of lower esophageal sphincter pressure. The symptoms of smoking-based acid reflux are something that can be felt immediately. The effects can cause several disruptions in your life, including serious pains and interference with a person's sleep schedule.

The Effects of Tobacco and Acid Reflux

When a person swallows a bite of food, the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular ring between the end of the esophagus and the stomach entrance) relaxes to let the food into the stomach, where the stomach acids and enzymes break it down. With acid reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) has a lower pressure, which allows stomach acid to wash up and irritate the esophagus. Tobacco smoke already provides its own irritation to the lining of the esophagus, and nicotine by itself increases the production of stomach acid. Saliva production is also reduced, which helps to keep acid in the stomach where it belongs. Saliva also contains bicarbonate, which can work to neutralize mild acids.

Helping To Stop Acid Reflux Caused By Smoking

The answer to stopping the symptoms of acid reflux caused by smoking is very obvious and simple: Just quit smoking. Cigarettes are not the only culprit in agitating acid reflux. The same effects can be found from cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff. In addition to reducing problems associated with acid reflux, there are numerous other health benefits that come with quitting smoking. While the severity of acid reflux varies for each individual person, it is important to take the steps necessary to minimize its negative effects.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/10-overlooked-reasons-to-quit-smoking?page=3

http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/14/11/2481

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1378332

http://www.webmd.com/solutions/sc/nighttime-heartburn/smoking-and-gerd

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