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Having Diabetes and Smoking Increases the Risk of Suffering Damage

Por Lic. Nina Nazor Robles* -

We all know that smoking is bad for your health. It is especially harmful if you have diabetes. Cigars and cigarettes can cause cancer and respiratory problems, but if you have diabetes, they also affect your circulation and increase your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, amputations, and impotence. Smoking also damages the health of those around you. So, if you smoke, consider this new evidence and give it up.

Why is smoking bad for you?

Smoking is the main avoidable cause of disease and death. Imagine how harmful smoking is: it is the main risk factor in heart attacks and strokes, not to mention emphysema and lung cancer.

Cigarettes and cigars contain substances that are terrible for your health. Here are some:
· Tars (benzopyrenes and nitrosamines): associated with the development of cancer.
· Carbon monoxide: reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your tissues and constricts your arteries, causing cardiovascular diseases.
· Nicotine: produces a physical, psychological, and social dependency similar to heroin and cocaine.

What happens to your body when you smoke?

Every time you smoke, your blood pressure rises. This happens because the carbon monoxide entering your body constricts the arteries, making your heart beat harder to make sure blood still reaches all parts of your body. If this happens when you smoke just one cigarette, imagine the effect smoking one after another has! That is how cigars and cigarettes affect all the arteries in your body, from your head to your toes. Moreover, nicotine, like caffeine or cocaine, is a stimulant. It causes your body to produce more adrenalin (one of the body’s defense mechanisms), which also raises your blood pressure to make sure more blood reaches your muscles.

Smoking also lowers the levels of vitamin C in your blood and irritates the stomach. This means smoking exacerbates problems like gastritis, ulcers or reflux, and affects intestines. Because nicotine is a stimulant, smoking also causes sleep loss, and generally speeds up the aging process.

If you have diabetes, it’s worse

We’ve already talked about the damage smoking does to your arteries. Add this to the damage caused by high glucose levels in your blood, and the outlook is not very encouraging.

  • Smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, and bladder.
  • Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered to tissues, which can cause heart attacks or strokes.
  • Smoking increases blood cholesterol and consequently the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking damages and constricts blood vessels. This affects blood circulation throughout the body, including feet, which require particularly good care in order to avoid amputation.
  • Smoking diabetics are three times more likely to die of a cardiovascular disease than non-smoking diabetics.
  • Having diabetes and smoking increases the risk of suffering from nerve and kidney damage.
  • Smoking increases the frequency of respiratory infections.
  • Blood glucose can increase with regular smoking, and makes diabetes more difficult to control.

Now that you know why you should stop smoking, let’s look at how to do it.

How can I quit smoking?

There are programs especially designed to help people quit smoking. Your doctor or health-care team should recommend the program that best fits your needs. Consult your doctor or health-care team before using nicotine patches or medication to help you stop smoking. They may be dangerous if not used properly.

Here are 10 things you can do to help you stop smoking:

  1. Find a real reason to stop smoking. Your health, your family, and even your bank account balance are some of the reasons to motivate you.
  2. Set a date for stopping and stick to it. Plan your entire program all at once.
  3. Destroy all the cigars or cigarettes in the house and wash all the clothes that smell like smoke.
  4. Stay away from places where people smoke. Stay away from friends who smoke until you manage to quit completely.
  5. Set aside the money you would have spent on cigars or cigarettes. After a month, buy something you really need or purchase a gift for a loved one.
  6. Keep yourself busy by doing healthy things during the times when you usually smoked.
  7. When you feel nervous or stressed, take a deep breath and drink water or simply think about anything other than smoking.
  8. Exercise every day.
  9. Cut down on drinking coffee and alcohol.
  10. Don’t wait for a miracle; you have to do the quitting.

In order to make sure you never start smoking again, develop a strong anti-smoking attitude. Contact your doctor or health-care team and ask them to recommend the best program for you. You know you can stop smoking; just make the decision to do so!


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