Late last month, a group of state lawmakers paved the way to invest $20 million in finding innovative ways to combat Ohio’s opioid addiction epidemic. Ohio has the most opioid-related deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s a lot of addiction and a lot of people in need.
What’s interesting to us at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland is the similarity between addiction to opioids and addiction to another prevalent substance in our society: tobacco. Studies have shown that the chemicals in tobacco cause addiction by altering the brain in the same way heroin does.
These highly addictive properties explain why it’s so hard to quit smoking. Quitting is on the minds of most smokers because they know it can cause lung cancer and contribute to heart disease. As podiatrists, though, Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey are highly concerned about the foot health of their patients who smoke.
What parts of the body suffer from smoking?
You might be surprised by the parts of the body that are damaged when you smoke:
- Your bones. Young people who smoke risk never reaching their maximum bone mass; and, people over 40 already experience bone loss, which smoking accelerates, putting you at greater risk for osteoporosis.
- Your blood vessels. Smokers are at high risk for developing PAD – peripheral artery disease. In fact, the risk of PAD is four times greater in smokers than the rest of the population. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that make blood vessels sticky. Tobacco smoke, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar all conspire to narrow blood vessels, make them sticky, and create low levels of oxygen in your blood. All of these result in poor blood flow that greatly delays healing of wounds and fractures, especially in your feet.
- Your legs and feet will become cold and tire easily because of the narrowed blood vessels.
- Your toenails become brittle.
- The skin on your feet dries out and flakes off.
- The nerves in your feet lose their sensitivity. When you can’t feel your feet, you’re less able to detect trouble and you’re vulnerable to falls.
Quitting is best If you smoke, add bone, nerve, blood vessel. and foot health to your list of reasons to quit. Contact us with your questions about the relationship between smoking and foot health. We’re happy to help you set out on the road to a smoke-free life. Our number in Solon, OH is (440) 903-1041. Click here to make an appointment with us online.