Yes. If you are among the over 45 million Americans who smoke, you should know that you are impacting your entire body. Smoking is ranked as the number one reason for “preventable death” in America according to the CDC. It affects the lungs, heart, circulatory system, is linked to many different types of cancer, and it causes issues for your feet as well!

How can smoking cigarettes damage my feet?

If you have injured your foot, you may have heard a saying “it’s too far from your heart to be serious.” Actually, the fact that your feet are the farthest from your heart means that they need more attention, not less. Due to the distance, the feet receive less blood flow than other parts of the body. Anything that restricts that already reduced blood supply will negatively affect the condition of the feet.

Perhaps the biggest threat to your feet from smoking is a condition known as Peripheral Arterial Disease. Deposits of fat begin to accumulate on the walls of the arteries, which constricts the flow of blood through the legs and to the feet. Smoking constricts the arteries as well, which can increase the risks of getting PAD. Add diabetes to the mix, and your feet are very likely to be permanently damaged.

Not everyone who has PAD experiences symptoms, but those who do often note pain when they walk, numbness, and coldness due to the lack of blood flow. In addition, you may notice that the appearance of your feet change. Sores that don’t heal, hair loss, discoloration, and skin that has a shiny appearance are all signs that something is wrong. Treatment options include medication and surgery. In some cases, surgery cannot help, and a badly damaged foot has to be amputated, because it was not receiving enough life preserving blood.

The blood carries oxygen and nutrients that are vital to the health of every part of the body, because this is how the body heals and repairs itself. This is so important that studies have shown that people, who quit smoking before surgery, or even the day that the operation is takes place, heal more quickly and with fewer complications.

How do I stop smoking?

First, the benefits of smoking cessation are great. Your body begins recovering quickly after you stop smoking, and there is an immediate improvement in circulation. Next, you don’t have to do it alone. Contact your doctor to devise a plan for how you can stop. Set a date, and prepare yourself by changing your routine, and staying away from situations that might trigger a strong desire to smoke. Finally, find healthy alternatives. Smoking may have been used as a stress reducer, so discover new ways to spend your time and energy. For many smokers, exercise is a great way to relive stress. Don’t be hard on yourself, and find others who will encourage you as you make this decision for a healthier life!

Dr. Lawrence Kales understands the impact of smoking on your feet and your overall health. It’s never too late to quit! With convenient locations in Spring Hill, FL and Hudson, FL, Dr. Kales and his friendly staff look forward to helping you stop the effects of smoking on your feet, and get your feet back into top condition.