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Smoking & Diabetes

The Effects of Smoking & Diabetes

How Smoking Impacts Diabetics

Cardiovascular Disease

Smokers have a 30-40% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over non-smokers.  Smoking also makes it difficult to control the disease and determine proper insulin dosage since it makes your body more resistant to insulin leading to higher glucose levels.  The more prevalent the smoking habit is, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes becomes.  Smoking has a negative effect on every organ in your body and leads to serious complications for diabetics which include:

  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Poor blood flow to legs and feet which can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputations.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves that cause numbness, pain, & poor coordination).
  • Many forms of cancer

As noted, smoking has damaging effects on your cardiovascular system, which can be deadly.

  • 68% of adult diabetics age 65 or older die from heart disease.
  • 16% of adult diabetics age 65 or older die from stroke.
  • Diabetics are 2-4 times more at risk of developing heart disease or stroke than non-diabetics.

Respiratory Effects

Smoking impacts the lungs negatively and can lead to:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Other respiratory diseases

Diseases such as these lead to a higher chance of lung infections such as pneumonia, which can be even more dangerous if you are diabetic, since it would raise your blood sugar and make it harder to recover.  Diabetics are almost three times more at risk of dying from pneumonia than non-diabetics.

Eye Health

Diabetics also have a higher risk of eye disease such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinopathy (a blinding eye disease)

Smoking can speed up the advancement of retinopathy and complicate matters which can lead to eventual blindness.

Lowering Your Risk

Avoiding tobacco products should be at the top of the list if you wish lower your risk of complications with diabetes, which can prove to be more difficult the longer history you have of being a smoker.  Smoking is highly addictive so you may start off with a few tips to aid in quitting such as:

  • Make a list of reasons to stop smoking.
  • Set a quit date.
  • Share quit date with loved ones to help hold you accountable.

Some find quitting cold turkey is the best way to kick the habit, others prefer decreasing cigarette intake over time is their best bet.  Another method is with the use of prescribed medications or over-the-counter aids like nicotine patches or gum, but please note that nicotine in these products will raise your blood sugar.

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