What is diabetes?
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It’s a disease in which blood glucose levels are above what is considered the normal level. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose or sugar for our bodies to store and use for energy. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
How can you help to prevent diabetes?
Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will develop foot problems related to the disease. Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy.
Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as Bunions, Hammer Toes, and Charcot Feet. It is very important for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot related injuries. Due to the consequences of neuropathy, daily observation of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative foot-care measures, he or she reduces the risks of serious foot conditions.
Poor Circulation Diabetes often leads to peripheral vascular disease that inhibits a person's blood circulation. With this condition, there is a narrowing of the arteries that frequently leads to significantly decreased circulation in the lower part of the legs and the feet. Poor circulation contributes to diabetic foot problems by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissues, causing injuries to heal poorly. Poor circulation can also lead to swelling and dryness of the foot.
Preventing foot complications is more critical for the diabetic patient because poor circulation impairs the healing process and can lead to ulcers, infection, and other serious foot conditions. Footcare & Diabetes Proper footcare is especially critical for diabetics because they are prone to foot problems such as:
If you have a diabetic foot, follow these tips to avoid infection:
DON'TsDon't excessively soak your diabetic foot, especially in hot water. Don't use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet. Don't use acids or chemical corn removers on diabetic feet. Don't perform "bathroom surgery" on corns, calluses or ingrown toenails. Don't smoke.
DOsInspect your feet daily for blisters, bleeding and lesions between the toes. Use a mirror to examine the bottom of your feet as well wear therapeutic footwear, including specially made diabetic socks, slippers, insoles, orthotics and other diabetic footwear. Wear high and wide toe box shoes. Wear footwear that fits well and protects your feet. Wear conforming removable insoles in your footwear. Wear seamless diabetic socks and stockings to keep moisture away from your feet. Use diabetic foot creams – just not between the toes. Use bed cradles to reduce the weight of heavy bedding on your diabetic foot. Diabetic skin care is important! Wash your feet daily with warm, soapy water and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Trim your toenails carefully, straight across, and do not gouge into the corners.
*See your podiatrist on a regular basis, and contact one immediately if your foot becomes swollen, painful, red or infected.