Diabetes and Smoking

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Most of the food a person eats is turned into glucose (a kind of sugar) for the body’s cells to use for energy. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin very well. Less glucose gets into the cells and instead builds up in the blood.This leads to various risks and health issues affecting most major organs of human body.

How Is Smoking Related to Diabetes?

We now know that smoking causes type 2 diabetes. In fact, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. And people with diabetes who smoke are more likely than nonsmokers to have trouble with insulin dosing and with controlling their disease. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes.No matter what type of diabetes you have, smoking makes your diabetes harder to control.

If you have diabetes and you smoke, you are more likely to have serious health problems from diabetes. Smokers with diabetes have higher risks for serious complications, including:

  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation (removal of a body part by surgery, such as toes or feet)
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination).
  • Many of the combined health effects of smoking and diabetes may make it more difficult to make healthful lifestyle choices.

If you are a smoker with diabetes, quitting smoking will benefit your health right away. People with diabetes who quit have better control of their blood sugar levels.

How to lower the risk of smoking and diabetes

There is no safe way to smoke, particularly with diabetes. The best way to lower the risk from smoking is to quit. Or if quitting is not possible, to dramatically cut down.

The following strategies may lower the risks associated with smoking and diabetes:

  • Exercise may lower the risk of lung cancer in people who smoke. It also supports good glucose metabolism, and can reduce the chance of obesity, which is another risk factor for diabetes.
  • Healthful eating can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber intake is especially important for people with diabetes, because fiber helps lower blood sugar.
  • Taking diabetes medications as prescribed. People with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to experience diabetes complications. Smoking compounds these risks.
  • Cutting back on smoking. There’s no safe number of cigarettes to smoke, but heavy smokers tend to suffer more extensive health problems.

    How to make this change?

  • To lower your risk of complications, quit smoking and avoid tobacco products. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Smoking is addictive and can be very hard to quit.
  • Start by making a list of all the reasons you want to stop smoking.
  • Then set a quit date to begin your smoke-free lifestyle.
  • Share that date with friends and family members who can support you and help hold you accountable. Some of them may even want to join you on your journey!
  • Many people find that quitting cold turkey is the best way to stop. You might find it easier to quit gradually by decreasing the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day.

Whatever method you choose, your doctor can provide tips to help you along the way. They can also prescribe medications or recommend over-the-counter aids, such nicotine patches or gum. They may also encourage you to try smoking cessation counseling.

Remember, nicotine raises your blood sugar. If you use smoking cessation aids that contain nicotine, such as nicotine patches or gum, your blood sugar will remain elevated. Over time, you can wean yourself off of these aids and enjoy the benefits of lower blood sugar.

The Takeaway

Having diabetes raises your risk of many health problems. Why add fuel to the fire by smoking? Avoiding tobacco products lowers your risk of complications from diabetes. It can help you limit the damage to your organs, blood vessels, and nerves. This can help you live a longer and healthier life.

If you currently smoke, recognizing the benefits of quitting is an important first step. Now it’s time to commit to a change. Make an appointment with your doctor to learn about the treatment and support options that can help you quit for good.

-Dr Prerna Gaur







Need to avoid nicotine exposure during pregnancy

Smoking or nicotine exposure during pregnancy increases health risks for the baby as well as the mother. Even second hand smoke is extremely dangerous for both and must be avoided as much as possible.

American Lung Association states that smoking during pregnancy is the cause for:

  • 20-30% Low Birth weight babies
  • 14% preterm deliveries
  • 10% of infant deaths

Smoking during pregnancy is also associated with increased risk in exposed children such as:

  • Cold
  • Lung problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical growth

The only solution to the problem is “QUITTING”. Its not easy but not impossible either.  Four D’s for quitting include:

  • Delay
  • Deep breathe
  • Drink water
  • Do something else

Pregnant women require immense emotional support along with physical strength. Providing resources to relieve stresses for a pregnant woman may ease the process of quitting.

Quitting Smoking – How to get rid of withdrawal symptoms?

how can you quit smoking

While it is a well known fact (even among smokers!) that smoking is not good for health, it is often quite difficult to quit smoking. Often it is lack of will power or lack of seriousness to quit. But often it is also about withdrawal symptoms wherein the body starts craving for tobacco/ cigarette after some time. Quitting smoking just to resume it few days later is not some thing that is uncommon.

Here are some ways you can deal with withdrawal symptoms.

If you have given up smoking, weight gain is inevitable. Gain in appetite after quitting smoke is natural because nicotine suppresses appetite centers in the brain leading to increased snacking. Smell and taste sensations are also suppressed due to aftertaste of tobacco. Incidentally, the food you consume to tackle the withdrawal also plays a crucial part in your recovery process. Continue reading “Quitting Smoking – How to get rid of withdrawal symptoms?”