November is the month of the Great American Smokeout and here at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we want to alert patients to the fact the quitting smoking can improve foot health. While most people are aware that stopping smoking will greatly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, they may not realize the role that smoking plays in other aspects of their health, including their feet.
When you smoke, your blood vessels constrict and your circulation is reduced. Quitting will bring the following benefits:
- Faster healing of foot infections and injuries
- Reduced down time after podiatric surgeries
- Decreased risk of complications accompanying other diseases that affect the feet such as diabetes
- Lower risk of developing peripheral artery disease
Most people who resolve to quit will hit points where the physical or mental craving for a cigarette can be intense. Here are some suggestions from the American Cancer Society on how to tame cravings:
- At least in the beginning avoid being in places where people are smoking. Spend as much of your free time as possible in public places where smoking is prohibited—movie theaters, libraries, malls, church, restaurants and museums.
- Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat a well balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Cut yourself some slack. Smoking is an addiction and it’s natural to feel irritable, depressed, angry or other negative emotions. Plan ahead to have ways to deal with the stress: exercise, a hot bath or shower, positive imaging and mediation.
- Switch from 1 or 2 big meals a day to 4 to 6 small ones. This will help keep your blood sugar up, your energy level balanced and reduce the urge to smoke.
- If you miss the physical aspects of having a cigarette keep oral substitutes handy such as lollipops, carrot or celery sticks or hard candy. Have a pencil, smooth stone or paper clip at the ready to hold in your hand.
- Keep a photo of those you love with you at all times. Look at it when you are tempted to smoke to remind yourself of why you want to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and other health problems associated with smoking.
- Phone a friend or a smoking cessation hot line when you need extra support or someone to talk to as you battle.
- Celebrate milestones—one day, one week, one month—that you go without a cigarette.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy but the benefits to your feet (and the rest of your body) are well worth it. If you have questions about other conditions that affect your feet, contact our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas at our Long Beach office by calling: 562-420-9800.