Smoking and Diabetes
Smoking is well known to cause a variety of health issues, one of the lesser-known issues, is the aggravation of type 2 diabetes. This article aims to clarify how smoking affects diabetics if smoking can cause diabetes in the first place and the best ways of reducing health risks for diabetics who may smoke.
Can Diabetes Be Caused By Smoking?
According to the center for disease control and prevention, smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the average non-smoker. One reason for this is that smoking affects the manner in which insulin works in your body due to nicotine triggering insulin resistance. Insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells, providing fuel. However, smoking makes that process more challenging, as your body stops responding to insulin, meaning glucose levels increase. This is where the term ‘high blood sugar’ comes from, in relation to diabetes.
If a smoking habit did cause you to get type 2 diabetes, then a continuation of smoking would only make it worse. Continued smoking will make diabetes harder to control and make it increasingly difficult to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
What Are The Consequences Of Smoking With Diabetes?
Smoking with diabetes can inflict a range of negative consequences to your health, such as:
- Optical (eye) issues. Nicotine chemicals can cause blindness
- Kidney problems. Poor blood pressure can lead to kidney disease
- Nerve damage. Smoking and diabetes constraints blood vessels causing damage
- Strokes. High blood pressure caused by smoking and diabetes cause strokes.
- Heart attacks. Raised blood pressure puts a strain on the heart
- Hardening of Arteries (especially in the legs) – poor blood flow due to smoking and diabetes causes arteries to harden
As is the case with any smoker, the more you smoke, the worse the consequences become. This is also the case with smoking and diabetes. However, it is on a greater scale, due to the inability to maintain a stable blood sugar level.
Are Smokers The Most Prone To Diabetes?
Smoking in Numbers
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the people most likely to smoke are young adult males, from poorer backgrounds. The US Library of Medicine states that the most common demographic in the Western Pacific Region to smoke is Korean males, with almost 50% of them being regular smokers.
Each day, 3200 people in the US smoke their first cigarette, with 2100 of those becoming regular smokers, with 1 in 5 adults smoking. Those who smoke regularly and in high quantity are at most risk of developing diabetes from smoking. It takes over 20 minutes after your last cigarette for blood sugar levels to return to normal. This means, those who smoke regularly, will often have an irregular level of blood sugar.
What Are Some of the Effects of Regular Smoking?
However, other effects are even more substantial for regular smokers. According to the US Department of Health, it takes around 15 years, after regular smoking, for the risk of heart disease to return to that of the average non-smoker. This risk is increased further if the smoker is diabetic.
Diabetes, on the other hand, is largely genetic, although just because a relative has it, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to. It just increases your chances. Geneticists are yet to pinpoint which gene causes type 2 diabetes, so the genetic risk cannot currently be prevented. However, type 2 diabetes can also be caused by a poor lifestyle, such as bad eating habits, lack of exercise or being a smoker (due to insulin resistance). Even if you are genetically susceptible to type 2 diabetes, you may never have to suffer from it if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Reducing Risk And Improving Health
The first, clear step, for reducing risk as a diabetic is to quit smoking. Even after just 20 minutes, your health will start to gradually improve. Although it may take years to return to your body’s previous state, the improvements will be noticeable and improve your general quality of life.
Use the Correct Medication
Secondly, you should ensure that you always use the correct dosage of medication provided to you by your doctor or medical official. Keep using your insulin and try to keep your blood sugar at the right level. Furthermore, if you are on any other kind of medication, check with your doctor and ensure that it won’t have any side effects when used alongside insulin.
Furthermore, you should get regular checks from your doctor, just to check that everything is in order and you aren’t suffering from adverse health effects, unknowingly.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
You should also attempt to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and a good diet go a long way reducing risk when it comes to diabetes. Giving your body the suitable nutrients and activity will make sure it stays strong and is able to fight any potential issues diabetes may cause, as well as possible.
Maintain A Good Sleeping Pattern
Finally, you should attempt to maintain a good sleeping pattern and avoid stress. Giving your body a biological time structure can help to reduce stress and strain, meaning your body doesn’t have to work as much. This also ensures you are in the best possible state to fight off any diabetes-related illness. By following these steps, you ensure that your health does not deteriorate further. It will likely improve considerably and will lead to you having a better quality of life.
Treating Diabetes And Quitting Smoking
If you are both diabetic and a smoker, the chances are you suffer more from the effects than some without diabetes would. Therefore, quitting smoking is even more important to your health.
Quitting smoking is not an overnight process, and although some effects may be felt quickly, others may take a while to set in. Like any habitual addiction, smokers attempting to quit will go through withdrawal symptoms, which should be effectively managed.
There is a range of effective ways to quit smoking and improve your health, including:
- Prescription medication
- Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or spray – These treatments are the simplest and often the first step in an attempt to quit. On many occasions, if you are a long-term addict they will not be successful if used alone. However, they may be more effective if used alongside therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or rational emotive behavioral therapy.
- Behavioral therapy
- Talking to your doctor or medical professional
Although 90% of smokers have attempted to quit, they’ve attempted to do it alone and without support, and less than 7% succeeded. Therefore, the above methods are recommended instead.
Your doctor may recommend that to quit, you begin with the simplest methods, such as nicotine gum or patches. If this fails then they may move you on to medication. This could be within an inpatient facility if you so choose.
An inpatient facility allows you to receive constant medical care and advice on issues you may be having, such as withdrawal symptoms. It also monitors any therapy sessions or counseling you may receive.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a vital part of inpatient treatment, especially when quitting smoking. It gives patients an alternative outlook on life and offers them other ways of dealing with stress.
Stress relief techniques are also a vital part of quitting. Many people initially turn to cigarettes to help relieve stress, so a replacement for that stress relief will probably be needed.
Some examples of stress relief techniques include:
- Yoga, meditation, and other breathing exercises
- Writing down worries
- Stress bands
- Planning ahead to avoid unnecessary excess stress
- Spending time alone to allow yourself chance to reflect
- Meeting friends occasionally to talk about issues, whether they are smoking related or not
- Exercise. The chemicals produced during exercise help to combat depression, anxiety and more
What Are The Benefits Of Quitting Smoking?
When you have successfully managed to quit smoking, health benefits will gradually begin to show.
- Lower glucose and cholesterol levels (this means more energy too)
- Smaller chances of heart attacks
- Smaller chance of a stroke
- Fewer colds and respiratory infections
- Healthier gums and better oral health
- Re-enhanced senses
- Better hygiene and no stale odor surrounding you
- You’ll save money so you can have a better lifestyle!
Further benefits that would matter to a diabetic include:
- Smaller chance of kidney failure
- Smaller chance of nerve damage
- Smaller chance of optical issues
- Resistance to insulin decreases
Not only will you see incredible health benefits from stopping smoking, but you will also see changes in your appearance. Smoking is renowned for yellowing teeth, yellowing nails and hair loss. By quitting you will not only feel better physically and mentally, but you will look better too. Quitting will not be an easy task, however, the benefits gained from it, make the task well worth it.