It’s been several decades since smoking was proven to cause lung cancer and chronic upper respiratory infections. Even smokers are well aware of all the health risks they’re taking when they light up. Or are they? Fairfax County podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has some news that may be surprising to some smokers: the chemicals in cigarettes are a threat to your feet.

Nicotine causes your blood vessels to narrow. The vessels that lead to the feet (peripheral arteries) are particularly affected simply because they’re located far away from the heart. The heart attempts to pump blood through narrowed arteries throughout the body, but blood has the hardest time getting to the periphery. Blood doesn’t circulate well to your feet, which leads to

  • poor healing
  • numbness
  • pain
  • difficulty walking

Furthermore, blood flow to the nerves in your feet is also diminished, causing peripheral nerve damage as well.

Bad news for diabetics

People with diabetes are already at high risk for nerve damage and peripheral arterial disease because they’ve got high blood sugar. Diabetics who smoke are piling more damage onto their already stressed circulatory and nervous systems. If you’ve got diabetes, one of the best things you can do for your feet is to quit smoking.

Vaping’s no better

Not too long ago, vaping was introduced as a safer alternative to smoking. And yet, today’s news is filled with evidence to the contrary. Inhaling nicotine and other chemicals through vaping isn’t any safer than inhaling them through smoking. Vaping will eventually cause the same kind of blood vessel and nerve damage to your feet as regular smoking will.

So if you’re a person who vapes, or a smoker looking for new inspiration to quit, do it for your feet. Make an appointment with Dr. Wilhelm for a complete foot exam and treatment for any smoking-related damage. We provide outstanding medical care at our office in Centreville, Virginia, just west of D.C. Call us at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.

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