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Smoking and Diabetes

Tobacco has many bad health effects, particularly for people with diabetes. No matter how long you've smoked, your health will improve after you quit.

Nicotine, the drug in tobacco, is one of the most addictive substances known. Besides the physical addiction, many smokers also become psychologically hooked on cigarettes. So kicking the habit is hard, but worth the work. There are many methods you can try to help you quit and stay away from smoking for good.

Smoking Hurts Your Health

The best-known effect of smoking is that it causes cancer. Smoking can also aggravate many problems that people with diabetes already face, such as heart and blood vessel disease:

  • Smoking cuts the amount of oxygen reaching tissues. The decrease in oxygen can lead to a heart attack, stroke, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
  • Smoking increases your cholesterol levels and the levels of some other fats in your blood, raising your risk of a heart attack.
  • Smoking damages and constricts the blood vessels. This damage can worsen foot ulcers and lead to blood vessel disease and leg and foot infections.
  • Smokers with diabetes are more likely to get nerve damage and kidney disease.
  • Smokers get colds and respiratory infections easier.
  • Smoking increases your risk for limited joint mobility.
  • Smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lung, and bladder.
  • People with diabetes who smoke are three times as likely to die of cardiovascular disease as are other people with diabetes.
  • Smoking increases your blood pressure.
  • Smoking raises your blood sugar level, making it harder to control your diabetes.
  • Smoking can cause impotence.

Why Quitting Smoking Is So Hard

People keep smoking for two reasons. First, nicotine is highly addictive. Often, a person who quits smoking goes through withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include: being irritable, sweating, having headaches, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as feeling restless, tired, or dizzy. Withdrawal is usually the worst on the second day after quitting, and it gradually lessens with time.

Second, many people become psychologically tied to smoking. It is part of their daily ritual. It helps them wake up in the morning, comforts them when they are upset, and rewards them for a job well done. Smoking also has pleasurable physical effects. It relaxes people and perks them up.

These factors make it easy to smoke and hard to quit. The pleasures of smoking start within seconds of lighting up; the bad effects can take years to make themselves known. On the other hand, when you try to quit, your first experience is the bad feeling of withdrawal. Only later do you begin to enjoy the benefits of quitting, such as having more energy.