How smoking affects diabetes and its complications

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Diabetes is a challenging condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It requires careful management of blood sugar levels to prevent long-term health issues.

Smoking, with its well-known health risks, further complicates diabetes management and exacerbates its complications. This review explains, in simple terms, how smoking impacts diabetes management and increases the risk of related health problems.

Smoking and Blood Sugar Control

Smoking is known to make diabetes management more difficult. Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, affects the way the body responds to insulin.

Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and for people with diabetes, its effectiveness is already compromised.

Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that nicotine raises blood sugar levels and makes it harder to control glucose, complicating daily diabetes management.

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

People with diabetes are already at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. Smoking doubles this risk by damaging the blood vessels, making them stiffer and narrower, which can lead to blockages.

A study in the Circulation journal reports that diabetic smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart-related issues than non-smokers with diabetes. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce these risks.

Worsening of Kidney Disease

Diabetic kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy, is a severe complication that can lead to kidney failure. Smoking accelerates the progression of kidney damage in people with diabetes by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, leading to kidney stress.

According to research in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, smokers with diabetes have a faster decline in kidney function compared to their non-smoking counterparts.

Effects on Nervous System

Diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage associated with diabetes, can lead to pain, tingling, and numbness, primarily in the legs and feet. Smoking worsens these symptoms.

The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke affect circulation, reducing blood flow to the nerves and exacerbating the damage. The Journal of General Internal Medicine highlights that smokers with diabetes have a higher incidence and severity of nerve pain.

Impact on Wound Healing

Healing wounds, especially foot ulcers, is a significant concern for people with diabetes. Smoking impairs blood flow, making it difficult for healing substances and oxygen to reach wounds.

This impairment increases the risk of infections, ulcers, and in severe cases, the need for amputation. Clinical studies from the Wound Repair and Regeneration journal suggest that smoking delays wound healing times and worsens healing outcomes in diabetic patients.

Risk of Eye Diseases

Diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults, is aggravated by smoking. The harmful chemicals in smoke can directly impact the retina, the part of the eye that senses light.

Research in Ophthalmology indicates that smokers with diabetes have a significantly higher risk of developing severe retinopathy compared to non-smokers.

Making a Change

The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse many of the risks associated with diabetes. Giving up cigarettes leads to better control of blood sugar levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves kidney function, aids in wound healing, and decreases the likelihood of severe eye diseases.

In conclusion, smoking has a markedly detrimental impact on diabetes and its complications. For individuals with diabetes, quitting smoking is one of the most effective ways to improve their health outcomes.

Healthcare providers play a crucial role in supporting patients through cessation programs, which are essential for long-term success. Clearing the smoke not only improves overall health but also simplifies diabetes management, paving the way for a healthier future.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that pomace olive oil could help lower blood cholesterol, and honey could help control blood sugar.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about Vitamin D that may reduce dangerous complications in diabetes and results showing plant-based protein foods may help reverse type 2 diabetes.

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