Smoking and Diabetic Neuropathy: Can Smoking cause Neuropathy?



    Diabetes is an ailment that occurs after the blood sugar or blood glucose levels in your body are higher than normal. If the high blood sugar level for a diabetic patient is not controlled, it can damage the nerves and this can slowly develop into a condition called diabetic neuropathy. The nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) is irreversible but the condition can be well managed. However, you will require to adjust your lifestyle by quitting smoking and wearing diabetic footwear such as slippers even when you’re indoors.

    How is Smoking and Diabetes related?

    If you’re a smoker, you’re at a risk of getting diabetes. If you already have diabetes and you continue smoking, you’re at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also getting diabetic neuropathy. The toxic chemicals in the cigarette smoke attack the blood vessels contributing to hardening of the arteries that impairs the capacity of blood to carry oxygen all over the body.

    Just what is the connection between smoking cigarettes and peripheral neuropathy?

    A combination of smoking and high blood pressure increases damage the blood vessels that feed the heart, eyes, kidney, legs, and other body parts resulting to long-term complications of diabetes such as peripheral neuropathy. Smoking can also cause:

    • Kidney and heart ailment
    • Poor flow of blood in the feet, arms, and legs that can cause ulcers, infections, and even amputation. The best foot and leg massager for diabetics can help improve the flow of blood in your feet.
    • Fertility issues
    • Risk of cancer
    • Teeth loss and gum disease
    • Retinopathy (it is an eye ailment that can result in blindness)

    Diabetic Foot Neuropathy: Why your foot won’t feel when you continue smoking

    The most common pain as a result of neuropathy is diabetic foot pain. The diabetic foot pain is a tingling, burning, and stabbing pain that occur in the foot as a result of the nerve problem called peripheral neuropathy. The nerve damage can deprive you of protective skin sensations and you can have circulation challenges. Further, high blood sugar and smoke can interfere or impend rapid healing as it delays the formation of new tissues necessary for healing.

    It is important that patients quit smoking as a mean of eradicating bad habits and observe healthy living. The diabetic foot neuropathy is not something you would want to have as it hurts so much and gives you discomfort.

    Foot Care Tips to Protect Yourself for Diabetes Patients

    Diabetes can lessen blood flow to your feet and this can deprive your feet of nutrients and oxygen making it hard for sores or blisters to heal. Also, if you don’t take care of your legs, diabetes can result to nerve damage referred to as peripheral neuropathy.

    Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness or sharp pain in your feet and in the long term lead to amputation if not well controlled. This is what you should do to protect your feet to avoid the complications:

    1. Manage your blood sugar. The first step to keep healthy for any diabetes patient is to ensure that they control the blood sugar as this can reduce the diabetic foot pain and enhance your health. It means that you will be required to take insulin and talk with your doctor on ways of managing the glucose level.
    2. Check both your feet on a daily basis. It is important to regularly check on your feet and between the toes daily to ensure there are no infections and blisters that can show signs of diabetic neuropathy. If you’re not able to check your feet efficiently, you can ask for help from a family member. Ensure you trim and keep your nails clean. Also, in case you have dry and cracked heels, you can try using diabetic foot cream for dry skin to repair the damages.
    3. Clean your legs with warm water. It is advisable that you wash your feet daily with warm and not hot water. Avoid soaking your feet too long in water as waterlogged sores take time and are hard to heal. Afterward, dry your feet immediately and gently dry all the toes.
    4. Wear Shoes that fit well. The greatest and worth of investment is to wear well-fitting diabetic shoes. A misfit shoe can result in a blister that can develop to a sore that if infected will not heal. Also, wear recommended socks to protect your legs from any irritation that can be caused by shoe making materials such as leather and plastics.
    5. Don’t walk barefoot. If you’re in the house wear slippers or shoes and do not forget to put on your socks while wearing your shoes. Socks should thin socks that cushion your feet from any injury.
    6. Engage in non-impact exercise. It is advisable that you perform activities that have minimal impact in your feet such as swimming, yoga, and cycling. Always talk with your doctor before starting any workout program.
    7. Speak up. You should talk to your doctor in case you experience any trivial changes in feeling in your legs, feet, or toes. The nerve damage is usually unpredictable and even pin-and-needle sensation can be a reason to worry.

    Is Smoking bad for Neuropathy? 5 Reasons you should Quit Smoking

    Is smoking harmful for diabetes? Yes. Does smoking increase diabetes? Smoking worsens your diabetes condition. You should quit smoking if you have diabetes for the following reasons:

    1. Smoking causes nerve challenges

    A diabetic smoker is likely to develop diabetic neuropathy as compared to the non-smokers. Smoking increase your risk of developing neuropathy as it limits flow of blood and circulation causing shortage of oxygen in the nerves and body parts. The ischemic injury causes nerve problems that eventually contribute to diabetic neuropathy.

    2. Smoking dries your Skin

    How does nicotine affect diabetes? Nicotine greatly reduces oxygen and blood flow resulting in a dry and peeling skin that is prone to stress. The flaky skin gives a chance for fungus and bacteria to and do more harm to your body.

    3. Smoking results to blood clots

    Smoking results to blood clot formation that complicates the lessening of a blood vessel. The clots can aggravate foot ulcers causing a blood vessel ailment and leg infections. If the clot completely blocks the arteries that should carry blood to your legs, you can develop a smoker’s leg that can lead to amputation of the leg.

    4. Smoking can surge your chances of an ulcer

    Smokers with diabetes are prone to get foot ulcers and have the diabetic foot pain that makes their life complicated.

    5. Delays Healing

    Cigarette smoke will lead to inhalation of nicotine that delays the formation of new tissues necessary for healing.

    Smoking: Why is smoking hard to quit?

    I have met hundreds of people who are willing to smoke but they find it so hard to quit smoking. The reason for this is that nicotine is among the high addictive drugs. When you start smoking it changes from a lifestyle decision or habit to an addiction that changes your brain chemistry.

    Nicotine normally attaches receptors in your brain and when you continue to smoke, the receptors increases in number. If a smoker quits or doesn’t smoke regularly, the receptors start to make you feel very unpleasant, a condition known as withdrawal. Due to the change in your brain chemistry, you will experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, as a person living with diabetes, you need to do everything possible to stop smoking.

    How to Quit Smoking: Tips of on How to Stop Smoking

    The first step to stop smoking is to make the choice to quit. It can start by making a quit date within a period of two weeks. During this period, you should tell family and friends about your decision to quit smoking and prepare on quitting challenges such as cigarette cravings and nicotine withdrawal.

    Use the time to collect all the information you require from pharmacist and doctor about the options to assist you to quit including medications that increases your chances of successive quitting smoking. There are over the counter products such as lozenges and nicotine patches that can help you to quit.

    Lastly, remove all the tobacco and cigarette products from your car, home, and workplace. Destroy and throw away all your cigarettes, matches, ashtrays, and lighters. Ensure that you wash all your clothes, shampoo your car, steam your furniture, and freshen up item that smell like cigarette smoke.

    Popular Treatment to Help You Quit Smoking

    1.Nicotine replacement therapy

    First, you should try to have a nicotine replacement therapy to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. This therapy can be in form of patch, gum, or inhaler. Luckily, the nicotine replacement therapy can be found in pharmacies without the need of a prescription. But before that, you should talk to your health care provider about the benefit and need of the therapy.

    2. Oral Medications

    There are oral medications that can assist you to quit smoking and reduce the effect of the withdrawal and smoking cravings. It is important that you talk to your doctor so that you do not interfere with other diabetic medications and cause health complications.

    3. Change of Lifestyle

    If you’re serious about quitting smoking is that you must change your lifestyle and way of life. I always tell my patients that if a friend is a smoker and keeping the friendship will influence you into smoking, kindly ditch the friend. If going to a party will expose you to smoking, kindly turn down the invitation. Just take a walk and have time with your family and slowly you will overcome the urge to smoke.

    Also, let your family and friend know why you have decided to quit and importance of you to quit smoking. It is important to let them know how hard it is and ask for their support as you try to quit smoking. Additionally, you can join a support group that has other smokers who are trying to quit. Your doctor can be of assistance as you seek information of such groups near you.

    4. Try Again

    The journey of transition from a smoker to a non smoker can be tough but never give up. It is possible that you may have a slip and smoke one cigarette. If that occur, do not focus on the cigarette that you have just had but focus on hundreds you have avoided and plan on managing it the same way you manage your diabetes.

    I have observed that there are people who have three unsuccessful attempts but they end up overcoming the habit and quitting for life.  So, don’t quit trying.

    Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Does smoking cause diabetes?

    Yes it surges the risk for developing diabetes. It changes how the body processes and controls sugar from the food that you eat. A smoker is 30-40% likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers.

    Does smoking make blood sugar go up?

    Yes. Smoking raises your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, you’re probably working hard to keep your blood sugar in check. If you smoke, you’re making it hard too hard to manage your blood sugar levels. Smoking makes your body more resistant to insulin that can lead to higher blood sugar levels. The unmanaged blood sugar can contribute to serious problems from diabetes and challenges with your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.

    Can quitting smoking lower your blood sugar?

    Despite nicotine being a highly addictive raises the levels of A1C. If you quit smoking, it will assist significantly with controlling your blood sugar making is easier to keep it within a particular healthy range. The change can be seen about two weeks after quitting smoking. It improves oxygen levels supply in your nerves and cells helping to manage conditions such as diabetic neuropathy.

    Does smoking affect diabetes 1?

    Smoking affects type 1 diabetes could enhance the risk of diabetic related complications. In case you’re having type 1 diabetes or diabetes 1, you can considerably increase the complications such as kidney ailment, eye disease, heart ailment, and stroke. It has been found that smokers had a higher AIC level of 8.5 versus 7.9 of the non-smokers.

    Is Chantix safe for diabetics?

    Chantix is an effective anti-smoking aid compared to even nicotine replacement therapy and Zyban. It has been sometime been linked with increase blood sugar levels. It can also cause side effects like namely suicidal ideation and depressed mood.


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