Diabetes And Smoking: Despite the well documented dangers of smoking, an estimated 45 million people in the United States still smoke regularly – around 15% of the population. For an otherwise healthy person, cigarettes are unhealthy enough; for a person who suffers from diabetes, they can be even more detrimental to health. And even if you don’t smoke, exposure to so-called second hand smoke is almost as unhealthy.
Unfortunately, many people with diabetes adopt the attitude that they already suffer from poor health and to smoke as well won’t make that much difference. However, most people who control their diabetes are able to delay or prevent complications for many years – a person who smokes and has diabetes has less control and is far more likely to die from a stroke or a heart attack than a non-smoker.
Smoking is especially bad for a diabetic as it reduces the body’s ability to use insulin as well as raises blood sugar levels. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach tissues, thus increasing the chances of a heart attack, or even a miscarriage. A diabetic who smokes regularly generally finds that it is much more difficult to effectively control their diabetes – in fact, just one cigarette can lower the body’s ability to produce insulin by up to 15%.
A diabetic who smokes also has an increased chance of having various other ailments such as ulcers, bleeding gums, kidney disease and nerve damage. Smoking can also increase the possibility of getting a cold or respiratory infection, as well as increase the possibility of limited mobility in the joints. And if you are a diabetic male, smoking can also increase your chances of becoming impotent.
Diabetes can lead to blood circulation problems in the feet and legs, as it can damage the body’s blood vessels. In general, smokers who have diabetes are more likely to have some difficulty with circulation in the legs and feet as well as with wounds not healing properly. In extreme cases, this problem of poor blood circulation can lead to infection, and even amputation.
Not only is smoking bad for a person with diabetes; there is also some evidence that smoking can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. It’s estimated the risk is almost 50% higher – even more for heavy smokers. And if you are a pregnant woman, you should not smoke for many reasons – one of which is the chance of getting diabetes and it leading to type 2 diabetes later in life.
If you do quit smoking, you will almost certainly notice that your diabetes control will improve; you may also find it necessary to change your schedule of diabetes pills or your insulin doses. Any medication for high cholesterol or high blood pressure may also have to be modified once you give up smoking. Be sure to consult your physician if you are a diabetic and are giving up smoking.
As any smoker knows, quitting is not easy. Many diabetics who smoke do so because they wrongly feel that it simply doesn’t matter. And many smoke due to concerns over gaining weight – although the benefits of not smoking generally outweigh any adverse effects due to gaining weight. But if you are a diabetic, it’s even more of an incentive to give up the habit.