A Healing Lifestyle – Tobacco and Neuropathy
Those struggling with neuropathy know all too well the familiarity of daily medications, a busy schedule of visits to the doctor, physiotherapist, or other medical professionals, and so we understand that sometimes it is hard to step back and look at how our lifestyle is affecting our overall health and neuropathy. While most of us, smokers and non-smokers alike, have an understanding that tobacco has adverse consequences on our health, we may have never had the chance to consider how this affects our neuropathic issues. Well here we provide insight into how smoking may affect those with neuropathy and provide more reason to kick those tobacco sticks to dust.
As you are likely aware, neuropathy is caused by damage to the nerves. The damaged nerves prevent proper communication between the brain and nervous system resulting in common neuropathic symptoms such as pain and numbness. Since these nerves have been damaged, you’ll want to do everything in your power to promote the best possible conditions for your nerves and surrounding areas, as well as avoid risk of damaging them further. In the case of a damaged nerve its imperative the nerve tissues obtain significant amounts of nutrients and oxygen via blood flow, so they can work towards their optimum health, and possible healing. Smoking is problematic – smoking constricts blood vessels, making them smaller, resulting in less blood and nutrients being delivered to the peripheral nerves. This restricted blood flow prevents healing in these areas and can even worsen the symptoms. No one wants to worsen their peripheral neuropathy; clearly smoking should be avoided.
Need more reasons to quit?
Here are three other important links between neuropathy and smoking:
- Smoking negatively effects blood sugar levels, so those with diabetic neuropathy can aggravate both conditions by smoking.
- Nicotine has been found to increase pain perception, making symptoms of neuropathy worse.
- Research shows those with a family history of peripheral neuropathy can avoid onset by avoiding or quitting smoking.
If you smoke, you’re probably wondering how you should go about quitting. If you are ready to get serious about quitting, speak to your doctor about setting up a plan. Quitting smoking is never an easy feat but there are many resources for quitting.
Know you have the power to make lifestyle changes necessary to help your neuropathy symptoms.
Health, A. (2018). Smoking and Peripheral Neuropathy - Arrowhead Health Centers. [online] Arrowhead Health Centers. Available at: https://arrowheadhealth.com/smoking-and-peripheral-neuropathy/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018]. Ninds.nih.gov. (2018). Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [online] Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018]. Healthline. (2018). Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018]. Albertaquits.ca. (2018). Quit Smoking Success Stories | AlbertaQuits. [online] Available at: https://www.albertaquits.ca/my-community/shared-stories [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018].
Sabrina Martini is a student entering the 4th year of her Bachelors of Science, majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge.