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Can quitting smoking cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Many people fear quitting smoking for a variety of reasons. It will be too hard, it is impossible to quit, it will make socialising harder etc. However, many of the fears that people associate with quitting smoking are really just excuses; many people want to justify their habit by creating a litany of reasons why they can’t quit smoking.

One such excuse that some people have come up with, but that is not grounded in truth, is that quitting smoking causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In fact, the reverse is true: smoking very often leads to a person developing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Let’s take a closer look at IBS to understand what it is and its relationship to smoking.

IBS is an uncomfortable bowel disorder that comes with a variety of unpleasant symptoms:

  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder and the medical community has not pin-pointed one cause of the disease; it seems to be the product of many different types of activities from poor diet to smoking. People who suffer from IBS are generally in a constant state of discomfort which can then cause them to suffer mood swings.

Smoking both contributes to the development of and irritates  cases of IBS. This is because cigarette smoke irritates the valves connecting the esophagus and the stomach as well as aggravating the lining of the stomach. Tobacco smoke has been linked to acid reflux, indigestion and other gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, so it can definitively be labeled as a contributing factor to IBS and other digestive problems.

SO why do people believe that quitting smoking causes IBS? There are a variety of reasons and some make sense and some don’t. However, many people falsely believe that quitting cigarettes causes IBS because of the discomfort that is experienced by people immediately after they quit smoking. Most people who quit smoking experience some form of digestive discomfort as their body learns to re-adjust to life without cigarettes. Heartburn, indigestion, nausea, constipation—these are all possible side effects of quitting smoking. However, these problems were originally caused by the cigarettes. If people begin to experience digestive problems for longer than several weeks, they might want to consider other aspects of their lifestyle—such as diet and exercise—as roots of the problem and seek medical attention accordingly.

So the long story short: quitting smoking does not cause IBS. Smoking disturbs the body (and may be the direct cause of IBS itself) and when a person stops smoking, then the body is still off kilter and takes some time to adjust to life without tobacco smoke.

Comments

  1. Bruce Smyth says:

    So how can one best manage these symptoms to reduce discomfort until the body adjusts? I have been smoke free for two weeks now, and today is the worst my IBS like symptoms have been since quitting. It has developed to the point now of passing mucus with wind and a fun morning of stomach cramps and ongoing constipation.

    What should I be eating to help my digestive system get back on track ASAP. Cultures such as yoghurt and fibre?

    • Maureen says:

      I believe Slippery Elm is helpful however I am not in the position to give advice. I would truly seek medical advice and perhaps see an NLP and Hypnotherapist as there may be something in your past life that hasn’t been dealt with at the conscious level. All the best with this.

    • Maureen says:

      Pleased to hear you have stopped smoking and feel for your discomfort. This is an uncomfortable problem and I had a client recently who said slippery elm helped her. Could I also say that there may be something in your past that hasn’t been dealt with and your unconscious mind is bringing it up for you to deal with it. I would suggest you seek the assistance of an NLP, Time Line Therapy and Hypnotherapy specialist. All the best with this.

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