When it comes to vaping (or smoking for that matter), most people know that it causes lung damage. Although vaping is considered less harmful than smoking, chemicals used in vaping liquid and aerosols or chemicals created during the heating process (such as formaldehyde and acrolein) can cause lung disease.
What many people don’t know is the damaging impact that vaping can have on gastrointestinal health. It can affect the entire digestive tract, leading to peptic ulcers, acid reflux, esophageal damage and chronic inflammation.
Peptic Ulcers & Acid Reflux
E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other chemicals that can increase the amount of acid produced by the stomach, along with a host of other side effects that can increase the risk for both acid reflux and the formation of peptic ulcers.
The risks of vaping include:
- Increased Stomach Acid Production. This is a problem because excessive stomach acid can travel back up the esophagus, which causes pain and can potentially damage the esophageal lining.
- Esophageal Sphincter Weakening. Nicotine can weaken the valve between the esophagus and the stomach, allowing stomach acid to flow backward into the esophagus and irritate the lining.
- Increased Coughing. Many vapers experience more coughing than non-smokers. Coughing puts pressure on the stomach, which can cause acid reflux.
- Slower Digestion. Nicotine also slows the process of digestion. This places a higher burden on the lower esophageal sphincter and increases stomach acid production, potentially leading to esophageal damage.
Symptoms & Complications of Acid Reflux & Peptic Ulcers
The symptoms of both of these conditions include upper abdominal or chest pain, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Peptic ulcers and acid reflux can also lead to more serious conditions, such as internal bleeding, stomach perforation or obstruction, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and even cancer.
In addition to peptic ulcers and acid reflux, recent studies show that e-cigarettes can cause gut permeability, resulting in chronic inflammation. Systemic, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of serious conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The Bottom Line
Although the effects of vaping may be less damaging than using tobacco products, they are still harmful to your health. E-cigarettes are also relatively new, making the long-term effects of vaping unknown. The safest choice for your health if you do vape is to quit.
The physicians at GastroIntestinal Specialists, A.M.C., treat multiple conditions and diseases of the GI tract. Our Board-Certified physicians have over 150 years of combined experience in providing quality care you can trust. To schedule an appointment, call (318) 631-9121 or click here.