Smoking is bad for everyone
We’ve all read the warnings on the packs. We’ve all seen the horror-movie public service ads. We’ve all heard it from doctors, family and friends. Smoking is bad for your health! And yet, millions of Australians suck in harmful chemicals every day.1
If you’re one of those people, and you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), this might be the time to change your lifestyle for the better. Deciding to quit is not only great for your overall health, it will also have a positive effect on your IBD.
This is not a case of wagging the finger or making you feel guilty. You just need to understand that smoking and suffering from IBD isn’t a good mix.
While smoking has been noted to have some protective effects in ulcerative colitis, it can also cause serious damage to the heart and lungs.2 As such, patients with ulcerative colitis are encouraged to quit smoking.
There’s nothing healthy about smoking
As sufferers of life-long health conditions are often aware, maintaining your overall health is a crucial part of managing your illness. By achieving a healthy ‘baseline’, you’ll be in the best shape to cope or recover from a flare up. A good healthy baseline may also help reduce the length and severity of symptom flare ups.
Inhaling noxious fumes, like the nicotine and tar found in cigarette smoke, doesn’t make anyone healthy. No matter how fit you are or how healthy your diet, inhaling poisons on a daily basis will take its toll on your health and wellbeing. It is bad for your heart, your lungs, your throat, your tongue, your teeth, and your brain (it is an addiction, after all). Smokers have an increased risk of developing many health problems including cancer, heart disease, stroke and…Crohn’s disease.
Smoking is bad news for health, period.
The link between smoking and Crohn’s disease
That’s right, smoking makes you more likely to develop Crohn’s disease in the first place. We’ve all heard that second-hand smoke is bad for children – but did you know that early exposure to cigarette smoke increases their risk of developing Crohn’s disease later in life?
Smoking can also speed up the progression (worsening) of Crohn’s disease in active smokers. Research shows that smokers with Crohn’s disease are more likely to be hospitalised, have more frequent flare ups and worse pain, and are more likely to need surgery.3
Quitting for life
Quitting smoking is part of any healthy living strategy, as is maintaining a good diet and regular exercise regimen. And if you do have a problem with smoking, having IBD is the best motivation in the world to quit.
There’s help out there
Smoking can be a tough habit to quit, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are lots of options out there, from counselling and hypnosis, to laser therapy, nicotine patches and gum. It is a matter of finding the option that works for you, and more importantly, finding the option that you can stick with.
Of course, before embarking on any major lifestyle change it is important to consult with your doctor about how these will affect your IBD (especially if you’re considering anything like supplements or nicotine gums/patches). Your doctor may also be able to refer you to services or resources to help you quit and stay smoke-free for good.
The best news?
Once you’ve quit for two years, the risk of flare up posed by smoking drops markedly.3 Starting today will make that day come sooner.
Do I need to quit smoking if I have Crohn's disease?
References: 1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4364.0.55.001 - National health survey: First results, 2014–15: Smoking. Available at www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Smoking~24 (accessed 18 July 2017). 2. Bastida G and Beltrán B. World J Gastroenterol 2011; 17: 2740–2747. 3. Nos P and Domènech E. World J Gastroenterol 2011; 17: 3567–3574.