Smoking can put you at risk for developing a range of diseases including type 2 diabetes. Those who are diagnosed with diabetes often experience serious foot complications. You can prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and foot-related complications by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and quitting smoking.
Smoking and Type 2 Diabetes
There are various factors that can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. These include age, family history, obesity, and cigarette smoking. While you can’t change risk factors such as your age or family history, you can reduce your risk by never smoking or quitting if you already smoke. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and eating a balanced diet can also help prevent the disease.
Smoking causes damage to the cells in your body due to the nicotine and harsh chemicals found in cigarettes. The more you smoke, the greater your risk for diabetes and the more difficult it is to manage your condition because the nicotine makes it hard to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Smoking is linked to diabetes in the following ways:
- Inflammation. Inflammation results from the cell damage caused by the chemicals found in cigarettes and can interfere with how the body uses insulin, which puts you at risk for diabetes.
- Insulin. High levels of nicotine can lessen the effectiveness of insulin, so regulating your blood sugar becomes a problem.
- Stress. Smoking puts more stress on the body and increases your risk for other diabetes-related complications.
When diabetes is not managed properly, other health problems can occur. You can experience:
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Blindness or eye problems
- Nerve damage to the legs and feet
- Poor blood flow to the toes and feet
Nerve damage to the legs and feet, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a serious complication because the loss of sensation in your feet puts you at a greater risk for developing a diabetic foot ulcer. If you are unable to feel an injury or ulcer on your foot, it can lead to an infection. And if that infection isn’t treated quickly and properly, it can lead to amputation.
Another complication from diabetes is poor blood flow to the toes and feet. When this occurs, it also puts you at risk for foot ulcers, infection, and toe/foot amputation.
Reduce Your Risk and Keep Your Feet Healthy
Since diabetes can negatively impact your feet, you can keep them healthy by reducing your risk of developing diabetes. Stopping smoking is one way to do that. If you do have diabetes, it is important to see a podiatrist regularly and to do a daily self-check of your feet. You can stop small problems from becoming serious ones by taking proper care of your feet, and prevention is key. You can avoid possible foot complications by doing the following:
- Check your feet daily for cuts, scrapes, blisters, or wounds. Also, look for any changes in the appearance or color of your feet.
- Trim your toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.
- Wash your feet daily and dry them completely after washing.
- Reduce your chance of injury by never going barefoot.
- Wear shoes that are not too tight and fit properly.
- Wear socks daily to protect your feet.
- Stay active to keep the blood flowing to your feet and toes.
- Consult a podiatrist f you experience any problems with your feet.
If you have questions about type 2 diabetes and how it can affect your feet, consult the team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists. To request an appointment in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient online contact form, or call our office today.