There’s no singular known cause for MS, but studies have shown smoking increases the likelihood of developing this condition. There’s also strong evidence to suggest that smoking makes MS symptoms worse, and can even make the disease progress faster.
For patients with MS who currently smoke, quitting smoking can help not only with respiratory symptoms, it could reduce symptoms such as loss of smell, and even erectile dysfunction.
So if you have MS, the effort to quit smoking is worthwhile – but we discovered something very interesting in our research. Despite all the evidence about the relationship between smoking and MS, it has been shown that people with MS actually smoke more than the general population.
Why not quit?
We identified a few common barriers that can make quitting seem unrealistic, undesirable, or not worth the effort:
01 Smoking provides relief against stress:
Many smokers say that smoking helps them relax, and having a chronic illness like MS can be stressful! Here’s the thing – nicotine has a temporary calming effect, but have you ever noticed how it just leaves you craving more? Other stress management strategies, like deep breathing, meditation, or exercise, can have more lasting results. Want to start a quick-and-easy meditation practice? Click here.
02 Smoking gives you something to do during an MS flare-up:
Smoking is easy. It doesn’t require the fine motor skills that your MS limits. It is something you can do when you are too weak to walk around, do the dishes, exercise, or other activities limited by MS. It allays boredom and distracts you from MS symptoms. Here’s the thing – there are other, healthier ways to fill the time. Try reading a book or listening to a podcast.
03 Withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, especially on top of MS symptoms:
Smoking withdrawal symptoms can seem overwhelming when combined with your MS symptoms. Here’s the thing: continuing to smoke can make things much worse over time. You can also alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawal using nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum.
These changes don’t happen overnight.
Even after you’ve made the decision to quit, the process of doing so can be trying. The trick is to take it one day and one tiny step at a time. Remember, the results could be life-changing.
Luckily there are many tools out there, and your Health Advisor has helped hundreds of other people in a similar situation. We’re here to help!