On November 16, we observe the Great American Smokeout, which is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the hazards of smoking and inspire smokers to quit. It stresses the benefits of quitting, such as a reduced risk of cancer and other diseases, better overall health, and a longer life expectancy. In this post, Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, discusses 3-foot conditions caused by smoking.
Smoking is a hazardous habit that damages your entire body, including your feet. And if you have diabetes, smoking becomes even more unsafe by taking an extreme toll on your circulatory system and heart health. Even worse, both diabetes and smoking can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, it can make it difficult to manage your blood sugar levels, which can accelerate diabetic complications.
In turn, your feet face three new threats when you smoke, whether you have diabetes or not.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: As mentioned earlier, smoking can negatively impact your circulation. Smoking damages your blood vessels and narrows the remaining healthy ones. People with diabetes already face challenges regarding their circulation, so if they smoke, their circulatory risks rise substantially, and that means restricted blood flow to your feet. This can diminish your body’s ability to repair wounds. With the elevated risk of neuropathy, it will take patients longer to identify foot wounds and even longer to mend them.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Diabetics are at a greater risk for peripheral neuropathy because elevated blood sugar levels can injure your nerves. That nerve damage spreads to your extremities, eliminating or reducing the feeling in your feet so you may not notice small wounds or cuts, which can elevate your risk for ulcers and even amputations. If you have diabetes and you smoke, your risk rises even further. And because smoking makes it more difficult to manage your blood sugar levels, your risk for neuropathy is elevated.
- Bad News for Broken Bones: If you smoke, either with or without diabetes, that translates to major problems for your bone health. Studies reveal that smoking affects your circulatory system in terrible ways. Inhaling nicotine and carbon monoxide slows your body’s capacity to form new bones. This damages your feet in two ways - it can diminish your bone bass and increase your risk for broken bones in the feet and ankles. So, if you sustain a foot fracture, it will take longer to heal, and you’ll be sidelined for a lot longer.
If you have diabetes and smoke, it is imperative that you schedule regular foot exams to guard your feet against dangerous complications. If it’s been a while since your last exam, contact Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 425-455-0936.