Smoking can also cause your mouth to make less spit, which might mean more heartburn symptoms. When reflux happens, acid gets into the lower part of the esophagus, says Ronnie Fass, MD. Saliva offsets the acid. Fass is director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Cigarettes may also make it harder for your body to make a substance that helps guard you from stomach acid.
A smoker’s cough won’t help you, either. “Each time you cough you get increased reflux because you’re increasing your abdominal pressure,” says Rahul Pannala, MD. That pressure sends acid upward. Pannala is an assistant professor medicine at Mayo College of Medicine.
“Chewing tobacco is even worse,” Fass says. Because nicotine is released constantly, it could mean more heartburn
Nicotine gums and patches are safer bets for overall health than chewing or smoking tobacco, and they are less likely to give you heartburn. “Chewing gum may have some positive effect, and nicotine gum is likely a better choice than smoking cigarettes,” Pannala says. One small study found no increase in heartburn risk in people who used a nicotine patch.