Got Cold Feet? Smoking Could Be To Blame…
Cold feet aren’t just reserved for weddings and chilly weather; it’s another reason to add to the list of reasons why you should quit smoking.
Blood vessels narrow and constrict when inhaling cigarette smoke, which decreases the blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues in the extremities. As a result, the reduced blood flow causes fingers and toes to feel cold and become pale or blue in color.
In addition, smokers are at a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is a condition that narrows and hardens arteries from plaque buildup. In fact, studies have revealed that some chemicals found in cigarette smoke can actually cause these changes in the blood vessels. The feet are the furthest away from the heart of any extremity, along with the hands, so even in optimal circumstances, they receive the least circulation. In smokers, arteries quickly become stiff, making it harder for blood flow to adequately reach the feet.
Early signs of PAD are leg pain and small injures such as scrapes that heal poorly, if at all. However, PAD is elusive and sometimes, there are no symptoms at all until the condition is severe. PAD sufferers also report changes in sensation in the hands and feet, such tingling and numbness, which prevents them from being able to feel pain in those extremities. If you also have diabetes, the risk is even higher for foot problems associated with both diabetic neuropathy and PAD.
Need another reason to kick the habit? Smokers are also more prone to suffer from cracks and calluses in the feet due to elastin in the skin drying out from cigarette smoke. Skin on the feet can appear thinner, shinier and red in color, sometimes making it easy to determine if someone smokes.
If you are a smoker and have noticed that your feet are getting cold, experiencing changes in sensation or are developing cracks and calluses, you should talk to your podiatrist who can prescribe a treatment plan to help keep the condition from developing in something much worse. In addition, talk to your regular doctor about planning to quit smoking! Setting goals, working with your doctor on medication or nicotine products and avoiding triggers (such as socializing with other smokers or drinking alcohol) can all help smokers quit.
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