Ways in Which Smoking Affects Your Digestive System

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While you might have thought that smoking tobacco only destroys lungs, causes heart disease, colon cancer and emphysema, the truth is that it also wrecks your digestive system. Let us have a closer look at how it affects the different parts of the digestive system.

Crohn's Disease:
Swelling of the internal lining of the intestines is called Crohn's disease. According to researchers, the occurrence of this disease is more in the case of those who smoke rather than non-smokers. Some researchers also believe that smoking decreases blood flow to the intestines, decreasing their immune system or may cause inflammation that occurs as a result of changes in the immune system.

It has been indicated in many studies that the chances of developing gallstones are more in those who smoke, and especially in women who smoke. However, results are still indicative and need to be corroborated through further research.

Heart Burn:
Heart Burn is a condition in which the juices/acids secreted by the stomach to digest the food starts flowing in a reverse direction, i.e. instead of going downwards it starts flowing up the oesophagus tract. The ability of the lower oesophageal sphincter, the valve at the end of the tract, to close down is reduced by smoking. The result is that it is not able to close due to which the acids start flowing upwards. ?

Liver Problems:
Smoking lowers the ability of the liver to process alcohol, drugs and other types of toxins. If the liver has already been damaged through excessive consumption of alcohol smoking can aggravate that problem.

Peptic Ulcer:
It has been found out in studies that those who smoke are at increased risk of developing peptic ulcers than those who don't. It can also aggravate the condition of those who are already suffering from peptic ulcers. Apart from that, the chances of getting affected from over-the-counter pain relievers, consumption of alcohol and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori are also increased when you are smoking. ?

Further, smoking reduces the amount of bicarbonate which is found in our intestines. This bicarbonate plays an important role in the digestive system as it allows the body to neutralise the excess stomach acids which have entered the intestines. According to some studies, it also increases the secretion of digestive acids in the stomach.

Is the Damage Reversible?
Most of the damages of smoking on our digestive system are not long term. Hence, there is no need to panic about them. However, some others can be long lasting and as of now, there is now way in which these could be reversed (damage to the liver, as an example). Hence, avoid smoking. Further still, avoid a combination of smoking and drinking. That is even more dangerous than smoking alone.