The digestive system is an essential system of the human body. It’s responsible for breaking down food and converting it into energy and nutrients the body can use. Without it, people’s bodies would not be able to function correctly.
Many people are aware of the dangers of smoking, but they may not know how it can affect their digestive system. Smoking can cause various problems, including heartburn, indigestion, and constipation. It can also increase your risk of developing ulcers and cancer. Here are the different ways smoking can affect your digestive system.
Heartburn and Indigestion
Smoking relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus . This can cause heartburn and indigestion.
Constipation happens when the muscles in the intestines slow down and make it difficult for waste to pass through. Smoking can worsen constipation by decreasing the amount of saliva produced, which helps to break down food.
Stomach ulcers are painful open sores in the stomach lining. They usually form when the stomach’s protective layer is weakened, and the acid breaks down the stomach tissue. Smoking can increase the risk of developing ulcers by damaging the protective layer and increasing stomach acid production.
The mouth is an integral part of the digestive system. However, it’s often under-appreciated. For example, smoking can lead to tooth loss. This happens because the chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the gums and decrease blood flow, leading to gum disease and tooth loss.
Crohn’s Disease and Colorectal Cancer
Smoking increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It also increases the risk of colorectal cancer and other digestive cancers, such as pancreatic and liver cancer.
Smoking can affect your digestive system in many ways. Thankfully, there are ways you can deal with it. Here are some ways to do that.
Implants for Tooth Loss
First of all, if you’ve lost teeth due to smoking, dental implants can be a solution to replace them. These implants are made of medical-grade titanium and are surgically inserted into the jawbone to replace missing teeth.
You’ll need implants because they can help you properly digest your food. Being unable to digest your food can further worsen your situation. If you’ve lost multiple teeth, getting an affordable all-on-four dental implant might be smarter. These implants come in a set, and it’s far more efficient than getting multiple individual implants. They are a permanent solution and can save you money in the long run.
Medication for Ulcers and Inflammation
If you have stomach ulcers or inflammation due to smoking, your doctor may prescribe medication to help treat it. These may include antibiotics, antacids, or proton pump inhibitors that reduce stomach acid production. However, it’s important to note that these medications can only help treat the symptoms, not cure the underlying problem.
Proper Diet and Exercise
Apart from medication, a proper diet and exercise can also help improve your digestive health. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can aid digestion and keep your digestive system functioning properly. Regular physical activity can also help keep the muscles in your intestines healthy.
Lastly, quitting smoking is the best solution to improve your digestive health. It may not be easy, but various resources and support groups can help you stop. Here are multiple ways that can help you quit smoking.
Most smokers are addicted to the substance nicotine. However, some people also smoke because it’s a coping mechanism for their emotions or stress. Therapy can help address these underlying issues and find healthier coping mechanisms. Here are three of the most common but effective therapy against smoking:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is a well-known and well-studied type of therapy. It aims to challenge any negative thoughts or behaviors related to smoking and replace them with positive ones.
- Motivational Interviewing: This therapy helps individuals find their motivation to quit smoking and supports them in their journey.
- Group Therapy: In a group setting, individuals can support each other in their journey to quit and share their experiences.
Nicotine replacement therapy involves using products such as patches, gum, or lozenges to wean off nicotine and reduce withdrawal symptoms slowly. These can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter.
There are also FDA-approved medications that can help with quitting smoking, such as bupropion and varenicline—these work by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can prescribe them for you.
Quitting smoking may be difficult, but it’s worth it to improve your overall health, including your digestive health. Remember to take care of yourself and seek help if you need it. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.