Diabetes refers to a group of disorders related to the body’s ability to produce and use insulin, which regulates blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels. When a person suffers from diabetes, her body’s inability to properly regulate blood sugar requires her to monitor and control glucose levels through diet, exercise and probably medications. People with diabetes must pay close attention to what they eat, how they burn calories and how they respond to the signals their bodies provide as blood glucose levels rise and fall.
Risk factors for diabetes include family history and being obese, but smoking and diabetes are also linked. In addition to increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, smoking can exacerbate diabetes symptoms in those who have already been diagnosed with the disease.
Smoking and Diabetes
People who smoke 16 to 25 cigarettes a day are three times more likely to develop diabetes, according to the American Heart Association (2010).
In addition to increasing diabetes risk, cigarette smoking with diabetes can worsen diabetes complications, including eye problems like glaucoma and retinopathy, foot problems resulting from neuropathy, kidney disease and skin infections. Smoking with diabetes can also increase the risk of insulin resistance.
People at risk of diabetes or who have already been diagnosed should quit smoking or get help with smoking cessation. Diabetes patients who are addicted to nicotine and have difficulty quitting should be especially careful as they move forward with the management of their symptoms.
If you’re smoking with diabetes, investigate options for smoking cessation. Diabetes can be easier to manage if you remove smoking from the equation. If you don’t feel comfortable attempting to quit by yourself, resources may be available at a local health clinic, including group programs and professional advice on smoking cessation. Diabetes management should include efforts to quit smoking, in addition to lifestyle changes and regular healthcare visits.
If you’re combining smoking and diabetes, monitor your blood glucose levels carefully. Be attentive to your blood pressure and blood cholesterol, as well as blood glucose. Medications also play an important role in your diabetes care plan. Tell your healthcare provider that you smoke and aren’t ready to quit; he’ll probably help you create a medication plan suited to your specific needs.
When smoking with diabetes, try to adhere to a healthy lifestyle. This involves weight control, so if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and aren’t yet ready to quit smoking, try to remain active and incorporate vegetables, fish, lean meats and complex carbohydrates into your diet rather than fatty meats and simple sugars. Managing stress may also be a good idea. Quitting is the best option, but even if you do smoke, a healthy diet and appropriate exercise plan can slow the advance of diabetes complications.
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Living with diabetes. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Smoking and diabetes. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/suppl_1/s74.full
American Heart Association. (2010). Smoking and diabetes. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3044775
American Heart Association. (2010). Choose a healthy lifestyle. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/PreventionTreatmentofDiabetes/Choose-a-Healthy-Lifestyle_UCM_313880_Article.jsp
Cleveland Clinic. (2010). Diabetes and smoking-Another reason to quit. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/smoking/hic_diabetes_and_smoking_-_another_reason_to_quit.aspx