The story your feet can tell – smoker’s feet don’t conceal their addiction

The excuse of ‘we didn't know they were bad for you' is a generation removed as viable rationale for smoking. The anti-smoking campaign has flooded all forms of media from coast to coast. There is a wealth of information on the consequences of smoking and plenty of groups to help you quit. In the face of all of that, Smoking isn't just bad for your heart and lungs -- it's also bad for your feet.there are still millions of Americans who light up every day. While you have heard that doing so puts you at a higher risk of lung cancer, you may not have heard all the effects it can have, especially on your feet.

Just by looking at your feet, Dr. Thomajan can discern if you are a smoker. It should come as no surprise. Your lungs provide a direct path to your bloodstream, the same blood stream that should be supplying nutrients and oxygen to every part of your body. When you smoke, your blood delivers carbon monoxide to your cells instead of oxygen. The color of your veins may even differ from normal as your blood carriers this different gas. Because your feet are so far away from the heart and supplied by small arteries, your feet are more likely to take the brunt of changes in the amount and type of nutrients being supplied to them. These changes in your blood can exaggerate hardening of arteries. When arteries harden and lose their ability to adjust to changing pressures, the feet will not receive the proper blood flow when they need it most or too much when they don't. This can lead to muscle pain and damage to nerves and skin. A chronic smoker will often have a purplish hue to the skin of the feet indicating the hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, that is occurring. While it is easy to agree that smoking isn't good for you, all of these things can become amplified if you are living with other diseases like diabetes or hypertension.

There is no part of your body or your health that isn't affected by smoking. Think about all your parts that are damaged every time you smoke. The best way to prevent the addiction is never to start, but there's never a better time to quit than right now. Make 2011 the year that you take control of your health and quit smoking. If you don't smoke, find someone you can help quit. If your do smoke, find a group or person to support you as you break the habit.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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