Q: I am 44 years old and a diabetic for the last five years. I smoke 10 cigarettes daily. My doctor always warns me against smoking. But I am finding it hard to quit smoking.

Smoking will negatively affect your overall health, including your diabetes care. It causes your blood glucose to increase, obstructing your efforts to control your diabetes. In addition, it will cause you to have a greater chance of developing diabetes complications, heart disease and lung diseases or having a stroke, as well as certain forms of cancer.

The best-known effect of smoking is that it causes lung cancer, but smoking is also associated with other aspects of diabetes and stopping smoking can reduce risk significantly. Unfortunately, smoking has been shown to be associated with premature death and much of the tissue damages seen in various organs.

Heart: You are about three times more likely to die of heart disease if you have diabetes and you smoke.

Kidney: Smoking will increase blood pressure, which creates an added strain on your kidneys. Smoking triples the risk of developing diabetes kidney disease (nephropathy).

Nervous System: Smoking will increase the risk of having neuropathy (damage to your nerves), which can affect how your body parts feel, how your bladder and bowel function and how your stomach empties.

Eyes: Smoking can increase problems with retinopathy (an eye disease affecting the retina) as well as macular degeneration.

Feet: Smoking will impair the circulation in small blood vessels which are present in the feet and legs. This in turn will increase your risk of foot ulcers, lower extremity infections and amputations.

Teeth and breath: Smoking will affect your oral health and further increases your risk of gum disease and damage of teeth. Smoking not only makes your teeth stink, it causes you to have a harder time breathing upon exertion, since it affects your lung function.

Smoking reduces your life expectancy.

Tips to stop smoking

1. Find a temporary replacement habit such as chewing gum.

2. Change your routine to avoid places, situations or people you associate with smoking.

3. Pick a suitable date to stop smoking – and stick to it.

4. Don’t try cutting down – stop completely.

5. Find support from friends and family.

6. Keep trying – most smokers can’t give up the first time they try.

Methods of quitting smoking

Many people know that smoking is bad for their health and that they should give up, but nicotine (a substance present in tobacco) is one of the most addictive substances known. There are two aspects of tobacco addiction: physical and psychological. The combination of these things can make quitting smoking very challenging.

Many people quote “will power” as the best way to give up smoking, and this seems to be required to some degree whatever method is used, but “will power” alone is not as effective as using it in combination with other treatment options.

Usual treatment modalities are

1. Nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gums, lozonges, inhalers, sprays)

2. Smoking cessation programmes, which involve education on benefits of smoking cessation and strategies to deal with withdrawal symptoms (physical and psychological)

3. Counselling

4. Medications: There are medicines that act in the brain to reduce craving for cigarettes and nicotine. They reduce the urge to smoke and reduce withdrawal symptoms. They can double or triple the chance of success. But their side effects include dry mouth, insomnia (lack of sleep), headache and nausea.

A combination of “will power” with other treatment options like behaviour therapy and medications can increase the likelihood of stopping smoking.

Benefits of quitting smoking

1. On the first day, the heart rate improves, high blood pressure drops, carbon monoxide levels drop and circulation improves.

2. After one year, the extra risk of heart disease drops to 50 per cent of what it was when you were a smoker.

3. The risk of lung cancer decreases.

4. The risk of circulatory and diabetes complication disorders decreases.

5. Lung function improves.

6. Breath/clothes/hair/skin smell better.

7. Looks improve (smoking causes yellowed skin/finger nails).

8. Life expectancy improves.

Dr Asok Cheriyan is specialist diabetologist at Al Waha Clinic Diabetes Centre, Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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