What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is above the normal range. Your primary energy source is glucose and it comes from the food you consume. Insulin, a pancreatic hormone, allows glucose from food to get into the cells to be used for energy. In diabetes, your body often does not make enough or any insulin or does not make effective use of insulin. After that, glucose remains in your blood and does not enter your cells. Getting too much glucose in your blood over time can cause health issues.
Smoking and Diabetes
Smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. Smokers are more likely to have trouble with insulin dosing when compared to people with diabetes who don’t smoke. The health hazards of smoking are well-known, but smoking is a serious risk factor for multiple health problems especially for people with diabetes. High levels of nicotine lessen the effectiveness of insulin, thus may cause diabetes or increase its complication to those with pre-existing diabetes. Smoking leads to increase in complications of diabetes. It is the leading cause of preventable death in many countries around the world.
It is now evident that smoking causes type 2 diabetes. In fact, If an individual continues smoking more cigarettes he has a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Whatever type of diabetes a person has, smoking will make the situation even worse.
How is smoking related to Diabetes?
If a person having diabetes continues smoking, they are more prone to suffering from major health issues such as:
- Sustaining damage to cells and tissues, increasing the risk of inflammation
- Introducing free radicals, leading to oxidative stress and cell damage
- Experiencing immune system problems
- Impaired blood sugar levels
- Experiencing changes in lipid profiles
- Having a higher risk of respiratory and other infections
- Having a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke
How does nicotine affect Blood sugar?
Nicotine plays a major role in regulating your blood sugar levels. The chemical present in nicotine alters the way your body can use glucose to fuel your cells. This is one main reason which increases the odds of a person getting type 2 diabetes, and it can make the condition even worse.
On the other hand, nicotine may decrease the blood sugar levels abnormally for people who already have diabetes and are taking insulin. Nicotine also changes chemical processes in your cells in such a way that they don’t respond to insulin and let it in the system, this condition is called insulin resistance. Our cells require insulin so that they can take glucose out of your blood and use it for energy. When they can’t do this, the glucose stays in your blood and this results in an increasing blood sugar level. Nicotine can also trigger your body to produce more triglycerides, a type of fat linked to insulin resistance. Nicotine raises the levels of hormones that fight insulin.
What happens to your body?
It doesn’t take a long duration for smoking to affect your cells’ ability to use insulin to reduce the blood sugar level. Most of the time, you will have signs of insulin resistance just an hour later. Studies have also shown that people with diabetes who smoke require larger doses of insulin in order to control their blood glucose.
People with diabetes who also smoke are more likely to suffer from:
- Kidney and heart disease
- Poor circulation leading to infections, ulcers, blood clots, or amputations ● Eye diseases, such as retinopathy, that can lead to vision loss
- Nerve damage that leads to pain, tingling, and mobility impairments
Many of the combined health effects of diabetes and smoking makes it more difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. For example, cardiovascular issues, nerve damage and reduced lungs capacity makes it harder to exercise and carry out major physical tasks. This, in turn, leads to a sedentary lifestyle and these setbacks can make the symptoms of both smoking and diabetes even worse.
If you suffer from diabetes and you smoke, you must realise that you are increasing the risk of developing complications. There are innumerable benefits to quitting smoking. You will not only be able to manage your diabetes well but also live a healthy life. So never quit quitting.