Smoking increases health risks for people with diabetes

Diabetics and smoking and helpful suggestions to quit the habit.

Most of us know that smoking has many negative effects to the body, including lung and heart disease, premature infant births and low body weight, damage to the circulatory system, high blood pressure and cancers of the mouth and respiratory tract.

For people who are diabetic and smoke, the complications associated with diabetes (heart disease, stroke and circulation problems) increases. Smoking has also been proven to be a risk factor with insulin resistance. People with diabetes who smoke tend to have higher blood sugar levels and less control over their blood sugar levels than non-smokers. Other risks associated with the combination of diabetes and smoking, include: kidney disease, joint pain, nerve damage, gum disease and eye damage.

The American Diabetes Association provides the following guidelines to help people who smoke, quit:

  1. Realize the benefits of quitting. When you stop smoking, you are helping your heart and lungs. The risk of damage to the blood vessels, eyes, nerves and other organs also decreases.
  2. Prepare to quit. It can be a challenge to quit smoking so make sure to plan ahead by setting a date, throwing away your cigarettes/matches/lighter/ashtrays, keeping a list of reasons for quitting and informing friends and family so they can provide you with help and support.
  3. Choose a quitting strategy. Decide whether you are going quit “cold turkey” or taper off gradually. Consult with your doctor about aids that might help assist you with quitting, such as the nicotine patch, gum, etc. Your doctor may recommend other techniques, such as counseling, acupuncture or hypnosis.

If you have diabetes and smoke, quitting could be a very important first step in managing your diabetes. It is also a way to feel healthier – today and for the rest of your life.

For more information, Michigan State University Extension suggests the following websites:

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