Great American Smokeout 2020: Smoking and Peripheral Neuropathy
Great progress has been made against cigarette smoking in the United States, but the long-term effects of smoking still linger. Although smoking rates have gone down regularly since the 1990s, many people of all ages still use tobacco products, and e-cigarette use has risen among teenagers since 2011. There's still plenty of work to be done in the fight against tobacco use, and every year the Great American Smokeout is held to encourage people to quit.
The Facts About Cigarette Smoking
Cigarettes have received negative press for years. They're labeled with a United States Surgeon General warning, listing their many adverse effects on health. But despite this, there are still many smokers out there and even former smokers still feel the ill effects of tobacco:
- 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes.
- Over 16 million Americans live with a disease related to smoking.
- Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and illness worldwide.
- 480,000 deaths, or 1 in 5, are caused yearly by smoking.
Rates of smoking have always been worryingly high among vulnerable populations in America. Many people smoke as a form of stress relief, so it's no surprise that smoking has often been found in greater rates among those below the poverty line, those suffering from mental health issues, or people in marginalized populations, such as certain racial or ethnic groups as well as the LGBTQ population. Like any other habit, smoking can be comforting during difficult times. This is one of the reasons why quitting takes so much work.
Smoking and Peripheral Neuropathy
Studies have indicated that neuropathic pain increases with the length and intensity of a person's cigarette addiction, and this is compounded by diabetes. People with diabetes who smoke are 3 times more likely to develop peripheral neuropathy than those who don't smoke!
But why does smoking worsen neuropathy? There are a few reasons:
- Smoking restricts blood flow to nerve cells. This compromises proper messaging between the nerve cells in our extremities and the central nervous system, which can lead to symptoms like tingling, numbness, and pain.
- Chemicals in cigarettes cause inflammation in the body, which can cause nerve pain and damage, and also inhibit cells from responding properly to insulin.
- Nicotine creates insulin resistance in cells, increasing blood sugar levels, which leads to diabetes.
- Smokers are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese, conditions which lead to diabetes.
Everyone acknowledges that quitting is difficult. But there's a crucial thing you can do to help yourself before you even smoke your last cigarette: Make a Plan! Preparing for quitting can help give you guidance, and give the process a shape and structure so it seems less daunting. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Establish a day to officially quit, and let your friends and family know. Emotional support is crucial.
- Set goals: what timeframe for reducing or eliminating cigarettes works for you? What does success mean for you specifically, and by how many months?
- Ask your friends and family to avoid smoking around you.
- Get rid of all cigarettes and paraphernalia, such as lighters and ashtrays.
- Stock up on oral substitutes to transfer your habit - sugarless gum, carrot sticks, toothpicks, coffee stirrers.
- Join a group support program such as Nicotine Anonymous.
- Research different types of counseling or therapies that may help:
- Consult your doctor about prescriptions that may help you reduce nicotine dependence, as well as alternative forms of nicotine to help you gradually lessen your intake.
How does Mountain Ice work for neuropathy?
Whether you're a smoker or not, if you have neuropathy you probably apply topical pain relievers. Mountain Ice is an ideal choice for that, but can also do so much more. The ingredients contained in Mountain Ice have anti-inflammatory as well as anti-oxidant properties, both of which help to increase blood flow. Poor circulation is a common factor in neuropathy, and increasing the body's ability to deliver blood and oxygen to damaged nerves can speed up regeneration.
Many neuropathy cases also stem from inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, which cause painful inflammation and swelling as the body's immune system attacks itself. Mountain Ice contains a number of ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties, such as menthol, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, and glucosamine that can reduce that swelling.