Patients aren’t getting the message. Smoking can definitely affect Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In a new study, researchers questioned 182 people with Crohn’s and 77 people with ulcerative colitis about their symptoms, smoking history, and understanding of how tobacco use affects the complications or recurrences of their disease.

Most of the patients in this study were white, female and in their 40s. Twenty percent were current smokers and 40 percent were former smokers. Only 10 percent of people with ulcerative colitis were aware of how smoking could affect their disease and less than half of the Crohn’s patients understood the complications that smoking could presen

“People think of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as ‘bowel only’ problems and cigarette smoking as causing ‘lung problems’ and look at them separately,” said Dr. Miguel Regueiro, who leads the IBD clinical program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. People who have an IBD and also smoke may experience more severe and more frequent symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. They also use more medication and are at risk for repeat surgeries.

Researchers believe that cigarette smoke damages the protective mucous membranes in the digestive system, which leads to inflammation. Smoking can also make anti-inflammatory medications less effective and can restrict blood flow. “The most important step that an individual can take to prevent IBD is not to smoke in the first place. Among smokers who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, quitting smoking is an action that improve their health.”

If you currently smoke and are concerned that you may have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, please call or set up an appointment with a doctor at GI Associates today. We want you to live your healthiest life. 

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