Nowadays, it’s a widely accepted fact that smoking tobacco is harmful to your health in so many ways. In fact, an estimated 80,000 people die each year from diseases caused by smoking in the UK alone. This could be anything from a cancer, lung and heart diseases to stroke, not to mention all the non-fatal conditions caused by cigarettes. You can’t really forget about them since every cigarette packet is covered in horrifying pictures of various diseases.
The number of people smoking in the UK has really fallen but there’s still a hardcore group of smokers out there. If you’re one of these people, all the reasons above probably are not convincing enough for you. In this article, we want to focus on how your ankylosing spondylitis is affected by smoking and hopefully make you reconsider quitting.
Several scientific research studies have found tobacco smoking can worsen your ankylosing spondylitis, especially if you’re one of those hardcore, long term, heavy smokers.
It’s been proven that smokers living with ankylosing spondylitis have more spinal damage than non-smokers with the same level of disease activity. The mechanism by which it affects ankylosing spondylitis isn’t clear yet, but researchers observed more spinal fusion in patients who regularly smoke.
The heaviest smokers are more than four times as likely to be in a higher disease activity category than light smokers.
People who quit smoking have lower disease activity than those who continue.
The conclusion here is simple: either radically reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke or quit smoking altogether if you don’t want to be at risk of your ankylosing spondylitis progressing rapidly.
Further findings include longer duration of morning stiffness, less spinal mobility, less chest expansion and overall poorer quality of life for smokers with ankylosing spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis can reduce the movement of your rib cage when you breathe, making smoking related lung damages more serious. Additionally, having an inflammatory arthritis like ankylosing spondylitis you’re also at greater risk of heart disease with smoking further increasing this risk.
Smoking can also decrease the benefits of exercising and in some instances, affect your treatment plan. There’s evidence that smoking could stop your biologic therapy working.
In general, smoking and ankylosing spondylitis is a very, VERY bad combination.
The most important advice we can give is don’t start.
If you’re already a smoker and want to stop, we know it’s not easy. Your hospital or GP will be able to direct you to a local service that can offer advice and treatment. You can also have a look at NHS website full of information and resources to help you finally quit your habit.