How Does Smoking Affect My Feet?

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Every year on May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) marks World No Tobacco Day. On this day, they highlight the risks of smoking and using tobacco and push people to limit tobacco consumption. You might think that smoking doesn’t affect your feet, but research shows that smoking affects your whole body – from your head to your toes. And here at Bay Podiatry Associates, you know we are all about keeping those toes healthy. 

What does smoking have to do with my feet?

The harmful chemicals in cigarettes, including tar and nicotine, have many known adverse effects on all parts of your body, including your feet and your toenails. 

Here are just some of the parts of your body that suffer from smoking:

  • Your bones. Individuals who start smoking at a young age, before their body is fully developed, risk never reaching maximum bone mass. Smokers over 40 years old risk accelerating any bone loss that naturally occurs as your body ages. This loss of bone density can put you at greater risk for diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Your blood vessels. The tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other chemicals in cigarettes can work to harden and narrow your blood vessels, a condition called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. Hardened, tar-covered blood vessels slow down your blood flow and greatly delay healing of wounds and fractures. This affects your feet especially. For diabetic patients, a wound that doesn’t heal can be the first step towards hospitalization or even amputation. 
  • Your feet and legs. Your extremities become cold and easily fatigued. Narrow blood vessels make blood travel to these areas slow and cause them to become tired easily.
  • Skin and Toenails. Smoking causes your toenails to become brittle and chip easily, and makes your skin dry and flaky, potentially leaving you vulnerable to fungal infections.
  • The nerves in your feet. Your extremities lose sensitivity and sometimes lose feeling completely. If you can’t feel what’s going on your feet, you might miss a cut or bruise that – especially for diabetic patients – could lead to big trouble. Loss of sensation could also make you more prone to falls.

The best solution is quitting smoking. Quitting will help you avoid any complications in your bones, nerves, blood vessels, and your feet. These are just some of the ever-growing reasons in the long list of why you should quit. Here at Bay Podiatry, Dr. Argirios Mantzoukas is happy to help you find your path to a smoke-free life. If you’re suffering from any of the above issues, or if you’re ready to chat about quitting smoking, give us a call today at (718) 266-1986.