As a smoker with heartburn it’s probably not what you want to hear, but there is a strong correlation with the habit and this particular gastric condition. Trying out heartburn cures could be a waste of time if you haven’t tried cutting down or quitting. If you’re unsure of why smoking causes heartburn and the physiological effects that nicotine have on the digestive system then let us explain:

As soon as you take your first puff, nicotine rushes to the brain and your arteries contract. This is what causes the head rush you get (a lack of blood supply to the brain). What happens next is the muscles in the stomach; namely the upper and lower oesophageal sphincters relax. The upper oesophageal sphincter is directly responsible for closing once you’ve swallowed a piece of food to stop stomach acid rising back up into the oesophagus itself. Because this relaxes when you smoke, acid often spills back up, especially after a meal when the stomach produces more acid. This is probably when you reach for the heartburn cures, when really you wanted to avoid the cause instead.

Quitting or even just cutting down on smoking could significantly reduce your heartburn

Quitting or even just cutting down on smoking could significantly reduce your heartburn

In addition, when you inhale the actual smoke itself dries out your mouth, throat and oesophagus, removing the saliva barrier your body naturally makes to protect the oesophagus lining from acid erosion. I regret to sound like an anti-smoking crusade. I, too, used to smoke and it’s only looking back now that I realise my heartburn would get so much worse in the evenings, at my friend’s house. I wasn’t allowed to smoke at home but I was at his, and there’s the correlation.

Of course smoking is not the only cause of heartburn and giving up is not the be all and end all of heartburn cures. There are so many things that contribute to it, as we all know non-smokers suffer too. All I am suggesting is that if you do smoke and want to help your heartburn then see what happens if you give up. There’s a huge chance that even if it doesn’t disappear completely it will vastly improve, and with evidence to show smoking dries your oesophagus and makes it more prone to acid erosion you are seriously risking your gastric health by carrying on. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge then here are some useful websites and links to help you through:

  • http://www.nosmokingday.org.uk/forum/ – a friendly forum where you can track your quitting progress from day one; discussing feelings and symptoms with other quitters who are at the same stage.