The Link between Smoking and Diabetes

Smoking and diabetes have a strong relationship that can severely affect the health of an individual who either has the disease or has the genetic disposition to be susceptible to it. If you or someone you love is a smoker, it is crucial to understand how this behavior can have effect you.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to regulate and produce the hormone insulin. This is used to instruct your cells to absorb glucose and prevent it from just floating around in the bloodstream. There are genetic factors that do raise the risk of an individual developing this disease, but they are trumped by behavioral and lifestyle actions.

Oftentimes there are no obvious symptoms. The damage from the ailment is internal and affects the blood vessels, leading to issues with circulation. Eyes, kidneys, and feet have fragile blood vessels, and so problems are mostly likely to be noticed in those areas first.

Lifestyle Dangers

Lifestyle choices can greatly increase your risk. A poor diet, especially one marked with excessive amounts of processed food, sugar, and fast food, can lead to the onset of diabetes. Tied into that factor is bodyweight. Individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop the disease. Beyond diet and bodyweight, smoking has been found to be a cause of type 2 diabetes. Smokers are more likely to develop this condition than nonsmokers and, once developed, they also have greater complications that arise.

Smoking’s Side Effects

This condition is a major health concern in and of itself, but the habit of smoking with diabetes can make managing this disease more difficult than it already is. Smokers who have the condition are proven to possess higher risks for such serious complications as heart and liver disease, retinopathy (eye disease that can lead to blindness), peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves in your feet and legs that cause pain or numbness), and poor blood flow in their legs and feet. When blood flow is an issue, it can result in ulcers, infections, and potentially even amputation of toes or feet.

Reducing Risk

It is important to understand that either having or not having the risk factors associated with this disease does not always determine whether you ultimately develop it. What you can do, though, is take action to put yourself in the best possible position not to end up with diabetes in the first place. Quitting smoking can reduce your chances. That is a good starting place, but there are more steps you can take to lower your risk even further.

Increasing your level of physical activity is a smart move for a plethora of reasons, but you can add this as one more. Working out, whether that means running, swimming, or simply taking 30 minutes walks every day, can help to prevent the onset of diabetes. Exercise often goes hand-in-hand with diet and this, too, can be an important preventative measure. Simple changes like choosing whole grains over highly-processed foods, skipping beverages that are high in sugar and replacing them with water or tea, and choosing good fats (the type found in nuts and seeds) over bad fats (trans fats, especially) will go a long way in keeping you healthy.

If you think that you may have diabetes, it is essential that you come in and see Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS will work with you to develop a plan and make sure that you do not develop complications that might ultimately necessitate amputation. We can help you be aware of your foot health so that you can lead a normal life. Contact our Austin, TX, office at (512) 328-8900 today and let’s create that plan for you!

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