Diabetes and the Risks of Smoking
Smoking is a habit that affects the body in innumerable ways. Containing tiny solid particles such as phenols, naphthalene and nicotine, smoking introduces harmful vapours such as methane, acetone, formaldehyde as well as gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrogen cyanide into the body.
With this fatal combination, every cigarette you smoke brings you closer to complications ranging from pulmonary diseases to cancer. Another life-long disease that smoking doubles your chances of getting is diabetes. At the same time, if you’re a diabetic who smokes, every inhalation of cigarette smoke brings you closer to a life riddled with serious diseases.
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Smoking Is a Major Cause of Diabetes
A major component of cigarettes is nicotine that constricts blood vessels and makes them less elastic. This means that nicotine results in a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that the cells receive, thus changing their chemical processes and making them less responsive to insulin. In fact, the effect of nicotine on the body is so strong and so quick, that nicotine resistance becomes evident within one hour of smoking a cigarette.
At the same time, the intake of carbon monoxide while smoking causes haemoglobin in the blood to bind which further reduces the amount of oxygen that the cells and organs of the body receive. Together, nicotine and carbon monoxide cause irreversible damage to the body, leading to insulin resistance and therefore, diabetes.
Though research suggests that diabetes is largely genetic, the chances of a chain-smoker developing the disease are double in comparison to a non-smoker. Smokers are most likely to develop type 2 diabetes over the course of their lives.
Smoking and Its Fatal Impacts on Diabetes Patients
If you are a smoker who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you are guaranteed to develop high-risk, serious diseases if you continue the habit. Since nicotine and tobacco lead to high blood sugar levels and curb blood flow around the body, smoking directly impacts the functioning of organs.
High blood sugar or hyperglycemia due to diabetes leads to peripheral neuropathy, a disease that damages nerves and causes swelling, ulcers and poor coordination in arms and legs. In its extreme cause, peripheral neuropathy may also lead to amputation.
As smoking continues to make diabetes more severe, it may cause retinopathy, an eye disease that can lead to blindness, and a range of cardiovascular diseases including strokes and cardiac arrest.
As a smoker who is a diabetic, your chance of developing serious heart problems is very high. Similarly, clogged blood vessels reduce the filtration process in kidneys, thus leading to chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
Diabetes in itself is a disease that slowly becomes dangerous, taking over your life completely, however, when accompanied by smoking, the disease and its effects increase exponentially.
5 Steps to Help You Quit Smoking:
Smoking only contributes towards making your diabetes worse, so by simply taking one step and calling it quits on smoking, you can reduce the impact of diabetes on your body by a great amount. Here are a few tips that may prove helpful:
- Start small: Set a realistic goal and start with reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke every day. This will make your body get used to lower nicotine levels and help control your nicotine cravings until you stop smoking completely.
- Create inconvenience: When you decide to stop smoking, it is best that you discard all smoking paraphernalia you possess. Throw away lighters, ash trays, and of course, any cigarette packets that you may have.
- Change your routine: When you head out, start visiting places where smoking is prohibited, such as movie theatres, libraries and malls. More importantly, surrounding yourself with non-smokers instead of smokers will go a long way to reduce your craving for a cigarette.
- Replace smoking with another habit: A good way to wane off your habit of smoking is to inculcate new and healthy habits. Take up drawing, painting or playing an instrument to distract yourself. In case you’re at work and feel like taking a smoke break, head out for a walk instead.
- Consult your doctor regarding nicotine patches: Nicotine patches are an effective method to gradually end your reliance on cigarettes. The patch will help tackle nicotine withdrawals and control your cravings. If you’re a diabetic, remember to consult your doctor on whether using a nicotine patch is safe for you or not.
For smokers who have a family history of diabetes, it is highly recommended that you give up smoking before the disease takes over your life and causes severe complications. Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes all the more challenging to give up smoking – the repercussions of which can be lethal.
Especially those who are approaching the critical age of 40, it is essential that you replace your habit of smoking with that of staying active and eating healthy. After all, no one but you can shape the quality of your life.