If you suffer from heartburn, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common digestive problems, affecting nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. It’s painful and frequent bouts of heartburn can signify something more serious.
Whether you have occasional heartburn or deal with it regularly, knowing what triggers it and which foods help ease symptoms is essential.
This article is for you if you have frequent or occasional heartburn. Keep reading as we look to see if smoking, drinking caffeine, or alcohol worsens heartburn.
How Smoking Affects Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)
Smoking interferes with the proper function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a valve that controls the flow of food into your stomach.
Smoking relaxes this valve and makes it easier for food to enter your intestines. This can lead to over-eating because you don’t feel full as quickly as a non-smoker would after eating something small.
Smoke also causes inflammation in the stomach, which causes indigestion and stomach acidity (i.e., acid reflux).
Smoking is one of the most incredible supporters of indigestion and stomach acidity. Tobacco use increases the amount of acid your body produces, leading to ulcers and inflammation in your digestive tract.
Smoking also damages your digestive tract’s lining. This damage makes it harder for food to move through without getting stuck and thus causing heartburn.
Nicotine Worsens Heartburn Symptoms
Nicotine is a stimulant that’s present in the tobacco of cigarettes. Nicotine is also a vasoconstrictor.
This means it causes blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow and increasing pressure on your stomach. The increased pressure can cause heartburn symptoms and acid reflux, including an acidic feeling in your throat or chest.
Nicotine is also a diuretic. Diuretic means that it increases how much water you urinate and decreases the amount of sodium you retain. This leads to dehydration and low sodium levels in the bloodstream (hyponatremia).
When hyponatremia occurs with heartburn symptoms after eating food with high acids like tomatoes or citrus fruits, this will only make those problems worse.
Caffeine and Alcohol’s Role In GERD
Caffeine’s role as an irritant is even more direct. It stimulates gastric acid production. If you’re prone to heartburn when drinking caffeine (or have GERD), then make sure you avoid coffee and energy drinks before eating meals or lying down at night.
In the simplest terms, caffeine causes relaxation of the LES. The LES is a sphincter muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach. Unfortunately, this leads to heartburn discomfort for some people, especially if they have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Alcohol also acts as a powerful stimulant in your digestive system. While moderate amounts can help ease some symptoms like bloating by relaxing muscles in your body, excessive intake will worsen GERD. GERD is worsened by stimulating the increased production of gastric juices.
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing erosive esophagitis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
People who regularly drink alcohol risk developing erosive esophagitis or GERD.
Alcohol is known to damage the lining of your digestive tract, which causes problems with your body’s natural defenses against acid reflux.
Alcohols Major Affects on Heartburn
Alcohol compromises mucosal resistance and can cause inflammation in your digestive tract. Three other major effects of drinking alcohol include:
- Alcohol is a diuretic, implying it makes you lose more water than usual. This can lead to dehydration and irritation in your stomach lining.
- Alcohol is also a laxative, meaning that it can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea itself can irritate the lining of your digestive tract as well.
- Alcohol is a vasodilator because it causes blood vessels to widen, increasing blood flow through your body (including the digestive tract). This increased blood flow may be responsible for heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.
The Comparison: Smoking, Alcohol, and Caffeine Intake
Smoking, alcohol consumption, and caffeine intake are all factors that can cause heartburn. In addition, smoking damages the esophagus and stomach.
At the same time, alcohol consumption can damage the lining of your digestive tract. This damage causes problems with your body’s natural defenses against acid reflux.
Caffeine increases stomach acid secretion but also has an antacid effect. Caffeine may be beneficial in preventing heartburn. This is caused by inhibiting gastric secretions and increasing lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LES).
However, people who drink large amounts of coffee are more likely to experience symptoms of GERD.
What if a Smoker Quits Smoking?
When a smoker quits smoking, their stomach takes time to adjust to the changes and recover from the damage done by tobacco use.
Nicotine is a stimulant, and it can cause problems with sleep. Nicotine is also a vasoconstrictor, which decreases blood flow through your body. This can lead to low blood pressure or even fainting.
Smoking also damages your lungs, heart, throat, and esophagus (the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach). When you quit smoking for good, these organs may take some time before they’re fully healed or repaired from all the damage caused by smoking.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it’s worth doing if you want better health and less heartburn.
Natural Relief From Heartburn
Smoking and alcohol consumption make heartburn worse. These substances make heartburn critically destructive to your overall health. It’s worth quitting if you deal with chronic heartburn symptoms.
However, there is a natural solution to help with GERD and offer you some relief. Gerdli is a natural alternative dietary supplement to prescription treatment. So, order yours today and start feeling better.