Stopping Smoking

Why you shouldn’t smoke when you have axial SpA (AS)

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

7 reasons why you shouldn’t smoke with axial SpA (AS)

Research shows people who stop smoking will see significant improvements in their disease activity, mobility, and quality of life

  1. Smoking is a strong risk factor for developing axial SpA (AS). If you have a strong family history of axial SpA (AS) do think about stopping smoking
  2. Once you have been diagnosed with axial SpA (AS), smoking continues to affect your body and the course of your disease. Researchers have tracked bone changes in the spine over time in people with axial spondyloarthritis (AS) and found that the more they smoke, the worse the damage
  3. Smoking can make your axial SpA (AS) pain worse. People with axial SpA (AS) who smoke report a lower quality of life because of worsening symptoms, like pain
  4. Smokers respond less well to biologic therapy than non-smokers. Researchers don’t yet fully understand the link but it’s thought that smoking may trigger a rise in inflammation, increase pain by interfering with nerves, or starve tissues of oxygen
  5. Smoking has a negative impact on your lungs and your breathing. Axial SpA (AS) can affect your ribs  meaning you already find it difficult or painful to expand your rib cage and smoking will worsen this problem
  6. Smoking can decrease the benefits of exercising for AS. We always recommend people with AS exercise regularly but smoking can reduce lung function and affect your cardiovascular system, so you won’t get the full benefit of exercise until you quit
  7. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke

Help and support

Here are some practical, quick and simple steps you can take straight away to quit smoking

  • Talk to your GP. Your GP can help by signing you up to a Stop Smoking Clinic, and prescribing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, or stop smoking medication
  • Join your local stop smoking service. Research shows you’re up to four times more likely to quit successfully with the help of your local stop smoking service. They are manned by trained advisers and are available all around the UK. You can choose between a local group that meets once a week or one-to-one support. You usually go for a few weeks and work towards a quit date. Find your nearest service  or call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044 to speak to a trained adviser
  • Find online support. The Smokefree website includes a range of free online support
  • Consider using nicotine replacement therapy.  Cigarettes are addictive, and self-control alone might not be enough for you to stop.  Nicotine replacement therapy is available on prescription from your GP, from your local stop smoking service or from a pharmacist

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