banner bg

How smoking affects the intestines and digestion

Why smoking affects the digestive system

Inhaled tobacco smoke, tar and nicotine enter the lungs, from where the carcinogenic substances are transported throughout the body. Since the respiratory organs can be called the first instance, a misconception has taken root in society that they are the first and perhaps the only ones to suffer from a bad habit . In order to expand human understanding of the dangers of smoking, the Ministries of Health of the countries obliged manufacturers of tobacco products to decorate the packaging of their products with visual pictures demonstrating the possible side effects of smoking. Time has passed, and today the terrifying images no longer surprise smokers. Moreover, they have become familiar to the eye and therefore hardly noticeable.

Smoking affects digestion and to other organs. At the moments of inhalation of tobacco smoke, the gastrointestinal mucosa is irritated. The more often and more intensively this effect, the higher the risks of developing inflammatory processes. But the harmful effects of smoking don't stop there.

In people suffering from the habit of smoking, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases and the vessels constantly spasm. The blood circulation of a smoker exposed to nicotine and carbon dioxide can not be normal a priori . In conditions of oxygen and nutrient deficiency, the digestive system is less able to cope with its functions. The secretion decreases, the amount of vital enzymes decreases, the regeneration processes slow down.

How does nicotine affect the digestive system?

The temperature of tobacco smoke is up to 60 degrees. This value is enough to damage the oral mucosa. Sharp temperature changes injure the protective shell of the teeth, which in the future leads to damage to the enamel and the appearance of caries. A smoker's throat, tongue and esophagus are equally exposed to nicotine, ammonia and the tar contained in cigarette smoke.

Smoking affects gastritis. Most heavy smokers suffer from this condition. At first, cigarettes do their job unnoticed, but after a while, impaired salivation and innervation of the digestive system cause bad breath, pain and a feeling of heaviness in the epigastric region, as well as nausea with concomitant vomiting after eating.

Nicotine is merciless to gut and esophageal health . Once in the oral cavity, the substance acts as a powerful irritant to the salivary glands, which are forced to increase the secretion of saliva. The poisoned substance is swallowed and irritates the stomach, and can also cause infection of the digestive system.

Why smoking affects the digestive system

How Cigarette Smoke Affects Digestive Function

Smoking affects digestion. Nicotine circulating through the circulatory system affects the hypothalamus, which contains the centers that regulate appetite and the feeling of satisfying hunger. This explains why some smokers eat irregularly and are lean, while others tend to gain weight.

Among other things, nicotine affects the work of the autonomic system, which is responsible for intestinal motility and other functions of the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, all digestive processes suffer, but worst of all, food stagnates in the intestines and is not fully absorbed .

Smoking, digestion and possible complications

In the first 5-6 years of smoking, the stomach suffers from increased secretion of hydrochloric acid, pepsin and other enzymes, the excess of which leads to duodenal ulcers and stomach ulcers. For smokers with a higher experience, the processes are reversed: within 15-20 minutes after the cigarette is smoked, the stomach stops contracting and produces components of gastric juice. As a result, appetite disappears, a feeling of heaviness and bloating appears in the abdomen, and flatulence is possible.

Disrupted digestive functions are inevitable consequences after smoking. Deficiency of vitamins and minerals leads to a haggard appearance, a tendency to depressive disorders and poor health. Nicotine and carcinogenic substances reduce the fertility of men and women, cause inflammatory bowel diseases and oncology.

We figured out how smoking affects the intestines. Therefore, it is easy to imagine how smoking affects ulcers and other existing gastrointestinal diseases. According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, the risk of malignant neoplasms in the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach and intestines in people who can not give up their addiction is 4 times higher than in non-smokers.

Smoking, digestion and possible complications


Treatment of ulcerative lesions in smokers is complicated and sometimes does not work if the person does not give up cigarettes.

In smokers, the process of neutralizing hydrochloric acid in the stomach is impaired . As its amount increases, the gastrointestinal mucosa suffers and ulcerative lesions can form.


Heartburn is a common complaint of a smoker. An unpleasant feeling worries especially about the fact of a smoked cigarette. This is due to irritation of the stomach by acidic contents that enter along with saliva.

Crohn's disease

This chronic, incurable disease from the IBD group is accompanied by severe pain, diarrhea, weight loss and other symptoms, which you can read more about in the Crohn's Disease section of Croncolitis . According to research, people who smoke have a high risk of developing this disease.

Treatment of Crohn's disease in smokers rarely brings the expected effect: the body is unable to properly absorb medications, and a weakened intestine, which already suffers from disorders in the microflora and loose stools, is deprived of the opportunity to receive normal blood circulation. Trophism suffers, metabolism is disturbed. The consequences of taking nicotine in Crohn's disease are endless.

Smokers are more likely than others to undergo surgery with an appropriate diagnosis. The likelihood of disability increases significantly.

Smoking and oral organs

In addition to the fact that at the time of smoking, poisoned saliva enters the stomach and disrupts the work of the entire gastrointestinal tract, it is important to understand that exposure to high temperatures damages the oral mucosa, in which cracks form over time, leading to inflammatory processes on the gums (gingivitis, periodontal disease, leukoplakia teeth may fall out). The lips, tongue and jaw of the smoker, which are the first to take the nicotine hit, are always targeted by cancer.

Liver dysfunction

Besides the fact that smoking depresses the intestines, cigarettes have a detrimental effect on the liver. This natural filter in the human body works continuously, and suffers many times more under the influence of poisonous cigarette smoke . Over time, the organ loses its ability to function fully, which affects the viability of other systems.

Stones in the gall

This is another side effect for people who are accustomed to smoking. Women who smoke are especially susceptible to gallstone disease.

Harmful if hookah as well as cigarettes

Mixes for hookah smoking are available with and without nicotine . In both cases, tobacco smoke does not benefit the body, but it is generally accepted that formulations in which the irritant is absent do not affect the digestive organs.

Tar and chemical smoke, getting into the body, have a toxic effect, but to a lesser extent than a regular cigarette.

What about trendy vapes

Electronic cigarettes have gained widespread popularity in recent years. Those that contain nicotine are harmful to health. Analogs are less dangerous, but according to some studies, glycerin, which is part of vapes, when heated, can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Digestion has worsened as a result of smoking: how to be

The sooner you quit smoking, the less likely you are to have negative effects of tobacco on the digestive system. After giving up the habit, the body will gradually begin to recover. The amount of time required to complete the regenerative processes is an individual parameter. In most people who refuse cigarettes, sustained improvement comes after a few months.

Quitting smoking does not guarantee that Crohn's disease, ulcer or cancer will not bother in the future, but the likelihood is significantly reduced. The cigarette is a factor provoking these pathologies.

For people who smoke who already have gastrointestinal diseases, it is recommended for the withdrawal period:


Spend more time outdoors.

Establish a diet: eat often, but in small portions; exclude fatty, sweet and fast food.

Drink at least 2 liters of water daily.

If the process of withdrawal from nicotine is difficult, nicotine replacement therapy can be used as auxiliary methods by consulting a doctor. Coffee and alcohol are contraindicated during withdrawal from cigarettes , since these drinks increase the craving for smoking.

By:Dr.Albert M. Harary

Leave A Comment
Our Location