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Features Health & Wellness Quitting smoking can improve health of diabetes patients

November is American Diabetes Month. This year’s theme, “A Day in the Life of Diabetes,” is a reminder that quitting smoking is one way a tobacco user with diabetes can live healthier and longer.

In the United States, the annual cost of diagnosed diabetes is a staggering $245 billion, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This figure includes direct medical costs and loss of productivity.

Smoking not only increases a person’s chance of developing type two diabetes, but makes both types of diabetes harder to control.

For example, smoking, as well as use of other tobacco products, can interfere with how insulin works, a situation called “insulin resistance.”

A smoker with diabetes is more likely to have serious health problems or complications from diabetes, including:

• Heart and kidney disease;

• Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to foot infections, ulcers, and possible amputation of toes or feet;

• Retinopathy, an eye disease that can cause blindness; and

• Peripheral neuropathy, damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination.

The CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers Campaign features Bill, a diabetes patient who quit smoking the day his leg was amputated.

"Having diabetes and being a smoker—my doctors always warned me about the bad things that could happen” Bill said. “Did I listen? No!"

The health benefits from quitting tobacco begin right away. People with diabetes who quit have better control of their blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that insulin resistance can start to decrease eight weeks after quitting. And recovery from surgery can happen faster.

QuitlineNC, North Carolina’s free telephone and online tobacco use cessation service, is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784- 8669) 24 hours a day, to help any tobacco user develop a personal plan to quit. The support QuitlineNC provides can more than triple a quitter’s chances of being successful.

Another goal of American Diabetes Month is to show what it is like to live with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association is asking anyone with diabetes to upload a photo of what living with diabetes means to you. The ADA is teaming up with CVS to build a collage representing the true picture of diabetes. For every picture uploaded, CVS will donate $1 to ADA – up to $25,000.

The staff at Macon County Public Health feels strongly about reaching people with diabetes. An ADA® certified education is provided weekly. The program is fun, family-friendly, and available to all ages for both types of diabetes. Many insurance plans cover this service. Contact Jessi Bassett at (828)349-2086 for more information. Se habla Española. Llamar (828) 349-2471.

For more information on Diabetes Awareness Month or to help build the true picture of diabetes, visit www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/ programs/american-diabetes-month/.

For more information on QuitlineNC visit www.quitline.com.

For Bill’s story, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/stories/bill.html


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