These are the Best Ways to Quit Smoking (& Why You Must!)

By now, we know that smoking hurts your health. But for diabetics, it's even worse. In fact, smoking doubles your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, and erectile dysfunction. Why is smoking and diabetes a deadly combo? They can both damage your heart and your circulation. They may raise your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. Also, smokers have a hard time controlling their blood sugar. And that means you increase insulin resistance when you smoke.

Now, lets talk about other diabetic complications. Diabetes puts you at risk for peripheral neuropathy. This is a condition where nerve damage in your extremities makes you lose sensation in your feet and/or hands. And smoking can contribute to your risk.

That’s because, smoking, regularly constricts and damages your blood vessels. And that is a serious problem for diabetics with already-compromised circulation. This is what can happen if you smoke with diabetes. If you notice any of these issues, even the start, contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate appointment.

Diabetics, Smoking and PAD: a Dangerous Combination

Research suggests that smoking increases your risk for Type 11 Diabetes. And then, if you keep smoking, things get worse from there. Here's why. 

When you smoke, your circulation takes a hit. And, when you have diabetes, that doubles your risks of poor circulation. So you increase your risk that wounds on your feet won't heal. Meaning they might turn into ulcers. Which, if left untreated, could leave you needing an amputation. 

That's why, as we prepare to say goodbye to 2020, it's time to think about quitting smoking. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), tobacco kills about 6 million people each year. And more than 600,000 of those fatalities are non-smokers dying of second-hand smoke.)

Need more reasons to quit smokinh? There's the risk for emphysema and cancer, of course. But did you know that tobacco can affect you long before you notice serious symptoms?

It’s true! Studies show that smoking impacts your circulatory system, affecting you in terrible ways. After you break a bone, average people form new bone in about 69 days. But it takes a smoker over 89 days to form that new bone. Why? Because nicotine and carbon monoxide, two tobacco byproducts, damage your circulatory system.  

And there's more. Read this if you already have Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a problem that restricts blood flow to your lower extremities. If smoking further damages your circulatory system. you'll experience devastating side effects. These include gangrene (which can lead to amputation.) And an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Everyone should quit smoking. But that's especially true if you have a higher PAD risk. (And that means anyone over the age of 50. Or anyone with diabetes; high blood pressure; or high cholesterol. And African Americans, as well.)

Still, I know tough it can be to kick this habit. Never fear, I’m here to help. Just keep reading for my top “Quit Smoking” tips.

 5-Step Plan to Quit Smoking

Here are 5 ways to ease yourself into your “Quit Day.”

Step 1:  Be Specific

Once you’ve decided to quit smoking, set a date and develop a plan. Visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help picking a plan that works for you.

Step 2:  Solo = No Go A strong support system can make a major difference in your ability to give up smoking.

Quitting is easier with the support of family and friends. Tell them you’ve decided to quit, and give them specific ways in which they can be helpful. Seek out friends who have quit successfully and ask what worked for them.

Step 3:  Keep busy

Replace smoking with healthy habits like exercise or active socializing. Make plans with non-smoking friends. And keep your mouth busy too: try chewing sugarless gum.

Step 4:  Avoid triggers

Stay away from people, places and things that make you want to smoke. Throw out cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays, and frequent spots like restaurants where smoking is prohibited.

Step 5:  Celebrate little victories

Your ultimate goal may be forever, but reward yourself for reaching mini-milestones like one smoke-free day, five days, one month etc.

With support and commitment, I know that you can do it. And if you need a little help getting to your personal ‘Quit day,’ feel free to reach out to myself or another healthcare provider. It’s our job to help you stay healthy. Which is why I'm here to support you through your breakup with tobacco. And to protect your feet from diabetic complications. Or any kind of foot pain. 

Of course, I can't help you if I don't see you. So make an appointment to come to my Houston office. And let's make that day your day to quit smoking for good! 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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