Diabetes Q and A

By Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N

Q For my New Year’s resolution, I‘ve decided to stop smoking, but I’m starting to lose my motivation. What can I say? I really love to smoke and don’t want to stop. Can you remind me why quitting is so important for people with diabetes?

A Smoking and diabetes do NOT go together! This combination can:

  • Cause erectile dysfunction in men and an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth in women
  • Cause abnormal glucose levels
  • Greatly increase the risk of stroke and heart attack by reducing the amount of oxygen that gets to your organs
  • Encourage the development of kidney disease and nerve damage78464698
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Raise cholesterol levels
  • Increase the need for amputation

Here are some of the benefits of quitting:

  • Lower risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Lower risk of nerve damage, kidney disease, eye problems, and foot ulcers
  • Reduce risk of mouth, throat, lung and bladder cancers
  • Reduce risk of erectile dysfunction, miscarriage and stillbirth

Don’t give up. There are many new tools on the market that can make this goal easier to reach, including nicotine patches, gums, inhalers and sprays, and prescription medications. Even acupuncture or hypnosis may help. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends or visit

Q While enjoying a holiday dinner at a local restaurant, the waiter accidentally brought me a regular soda instead of the diet one that I ordered. Boy, did I have problems with my blood sugar level after drinking it! How can I prevent this mistake from happening again?

A Here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • If possible, watch the serving staff pour your drink.
  • Ask the waiter to place a slice of lemon in your diet soft drink. This request makes your order a bit unusual, so the waiter must give it a bit more attention as he or she pours it into the glass.
  • If possible, request the can, so you can be certain that you are getting a diet beverage.
  • Take a sip or two before enthusiastically drinking your entire beverage; you may be able to taste the difference.
  • Carry a bottle of visual glucose test strips that change color when sugar is present. If it changes color when you dip it into your drink, your beverage is not a diet one.

Q This may sound like a crazy question, but I’m totally serious. Since alcohol lowers blood sugar levels, could I drink regularly to control my diabetes?

A In theory, that sounds like a dandy idea, but alcohol is a drug that harms so many different body systems it shouldn’t be used for medicinal purposes. It can damage the liver, nervous system, heart, and brain. It can also promote weight gain, high blood pressure, stomach problems, osteoporosis, and cancer. Regular alcohol use can also cause accidents and would prevent you from driving a car. People with diabetes can enjoy an occasional drink, but should eat when imbibing to reduce the blood glucose lowering affect of the alcohol.

Q Can cold weather affect A1C levels? My level seems to climb when the weather changes.

A Yes, cold weather can affect blood glucose results and ultimately increase a person’s A1C level. Researchers don’t understand this phenomenon, but they believe that it may be similar to the changes in blood pressure that sometimes happen to people in colder climates.

*This article originally appeared in 2009
**please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diabetes regimen.

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