It’s a widely known fact that smoking tobacco can cause lasting damage to your body, including severe medical conditions such as lung cancer and heart disease. However, what most people don’t know about smoking is the damage it can cause to your feet.
Toxic chemicals in cigarettes cause blood vessels to become sticky with fatty deposits due to the smoke. These deposits cause the artery walls to narrow, which make blood transport to the rest of the body, especially the feet and legs, more difficult. This condition is known asperipheral arterial disease or PAD.
How do you know if you have PAD? If you smoke, your chances of developing the disease are four times greater than if you do not smoke. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are a smoker, you are putting your feet at a high risk for damage due to existing circulatory problems that occur from diabetes. In some cases, patients will experience symptoms of leg pain while walking or notice wounds on the feet that heal slowly and improperly. However, in most cases, PAD doesn’t have telling warning signs of symptoms to alert you of the condition.
Are there any forms of treatment available? It is possible to help improve circulation throughout the leg by bypassing a part of the artery and attaching a blood vessel to it, or by using a tube with a small balloon on the end to dilate the blockage in the artery. In severe cases of PAD where the foot is badly damaged from loss of blood flow, amputation may be necessary.
If you’re concerned with the risk of damage you’re putting on your feet from smoking habits, get help in quitting. Consider these steps to help you quit smoking once and for all:
Set a quitting date. Plan ahead for the quitting date by removing all tobacco substances from your surroundings to help resist temptation. Ask your friends and family to help with support and encouragement.
Talk to your healthcare provider. Medications can be prescribed to increase your success of quitting.
Avoid temptation. Being around people who smoke or consuming alcohol can make you want to smoke. Avoid these situations and find a more smoke-free environment.
For more information about PAD or helpful ways to quit smoking, contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Danciger. Let us help you erase damage done to your feet from smoking!