A study that came out of the University of Manchester in Great Britain early in 2014 showed that smoking may increase your risk for hearing loss. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why this happens, it’s one more thing to add to the list of tobacco risks, including those for your feet. Although most people don’t connect cigarettes to foot damage, the link is there. Smoking has a very negative impact on your foot health—and the danger only increases if you have diabetes.
Smoke and the chemicals in tobacco do more than turn your lungs black. They actually narrow and stiffen your blood vessels, which restricts blood flow. This typically affects your lower limbs the most. Without sufficient blood flow, it can become painful for you to participate in many activities. Your nails, skin, and even hair may weaken, change, and become unhealthy. You also increase your chances for serious foot ulcers. When you have diabetes, you’re already at high risk for poor circulation and the changes that result from it. Smoking only makes the situation worse.
Although the results don’t appear overnight, quitting a tobacco habit can help you make huge strides in your foot health. Within a few weeks, your circulation can improve, allowing you to become more active without pain. Any foot wounds will heal more quickly, and your tissues will be able to receive more of the nutrients they need. This significantly lowers your risk for a diabetic amputation and developing clots in your lower limbs that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Of course, quitting isn’t easy. It’s not something you can do on your own, especially if you want to restore your lower limb health. You’ll need support from your family, friends, and medical professionals. The best way to start is by talking to your family and your doctors, like the team here at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle, to plan a path to quitting. If you want more information or an appointment to discuss smoking and your foot health, call our Berkley, MI, office at (248) 545-0100, or submit a request form on our website.
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