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Smokers’ feet

Young women that smoke may suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

We all know that smoking isn’t the healthiest habit. If you’ve ever seen pictures featuring the lungs of a smoker alongside a non-smoker, you will know how easily lung tissue absorbs the nicotine and tar from cigarettes. This eventually sees the organs become black and shrivelled, as opposed to the oxygenated, rich red colour they should be.

If the components of cigarettes can do that to your lungs, what could they be doing to the rest of your body? Of course, your lungs take the biggest hit when you inhale the contents of a cigarette; however, your blood cells then transport the detrimental chemicals to other parts of your body, even your brain.

These chemicals cause the cells in your body to swell. When they’re inflamed, they constrict the flow of blood through your vessels and veins, resulting in a build up of plaque and other deposits that would otherwise be flushed through your system. Eventually, when the plaque builds to such a level that hardly anything manages to get through, all sorts of problems can occur, such as a heart attack or blood clots.

If you’re a smoker, your feet could tell you a lot about the condition of your body on the inside. Your extremities are often the first to flag up signs that your circulation isn’t tip-top, given that they’re further away from your heart and your blood cells have a much longer journey to get there. If you do have issues with your circulation, you may find cuts, blisters and other infections on your feet take longer to heal, because your bloodstream isn’t transporting healthy, infection-busting cells to the required site as quickly as it should.

Over a period of time, smokers’ feet may turn numb or suffer from nerve damage. This could prove an issue if you were to injure your feet, for example, as you may not be able to feel the true extent of the damage you’ve incurred, or you may put them nearer to a source of heat if you’re cold than you should, which could result in burns. Blood may clot in your feet and legs because your circulation isn’t flushing out the bad cells effectively.

Female Feet trying to avoid Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), Smokers Feet

‘Smokers’ feet’ can be the common term for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This is a result of the symptoms already mentioned, where fatty deposits from the tar and nicotine in cigarettes clog up a person’s arteries. Tissue can die off if it’s not being nourished by oxygen and other components. In the US, one in twenty people have PAD and smoking increases the risk of a diagnosis considerably. As well as sores or wounds that may take longer than the norm to heal, those suffering from PAD may report a heaviness in their legs and/or feet. Conversely, their lower limbs may feel weak from the disease, which could impact their mobility. Perpetual pain may develop, as may a numbness or cold feeling in their extremities.

Some smokers may develop gangrene as a result of their addiction to cigarettes. Poor circulation and constricting blood vessels, over time, could cause tissue in the feet to die. The death of such tissue leads to gangrene as the area begins to decay. Buerger’s Disease can be responsible for such symptoms, and heavy smokers are particularly susceptible to this condition. Signs that could point to such a diagnosis include permanently cold hands and feet and said limbs turning a pale red or even a blue colour. The ensuing nerve damage could manifest into a tingling sensation in the patient’s fingers and toes.

Raynaud’s Syndrome is another condition linked to smokers. Though considerable exposure to the cold is typically a significant feature of this disease, the same circulation problems as described above can cause blood vessels to shrink, which affects the blood flow to every part of the body—particularly your nose, hands and feet. A perpetually red nose can be a sign of Raynaud’s.

Smoking can also slow bone growth and affect the strength of your skeleton. This could mean that any fractures your feet incur will take longer to heal as a result.

It’s not rocket science nor breaking news that smoking is a bad habit. That said, you may see yourself as a casual smoker who isn’t inflicting much damage on their body.

Your feet may tell a different story…


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