One in 10 Americans has diabetes. You probably know someone who has diabetes – maybe it’s a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even you.
The disease occurs when blood glucose, also known as your blood sugar, is too high. Although diabetes can be regulated with insulin, it causes many changes to your body – like in your feet.
Foot problems occur in 34% of people with diabetes and, if left untreated, can lead to amputation.
Texas Wellness Clinic, located in Richmond Texas, provides specialty care to patients with diabetes, including foot examinations. Here we explain two ways diabetes can affect your feet and how you can prevent them from happening.
Foot problems are among the most common complications for people living with diabetes. Here are some of the ways the health condition may affect your feet.
High blood sugar damages your nerves, which can prevent nerves from sending signals to your body. Nerve damage in your legs and feet can prohibit you from feeling hot, cold, or painful sensations.
This may prevent you from feeling a cut or sore on your foot, leading to complications, and in bad cases, an infection. Diabetic neuropathy can also cause the muscles in your foot to work improperly. This can lead to alignment issues and placing too much pressure on certain parts of your foot.
Nerve damage paired with improper blood flow can put you at risk of developing a foot ulcer. Up to 34% of people with diabetes develop ulcers. Foot ulcers are an increased risk for infection, and 20% of cases often require amputation to prevent those ulcers from spreading and save your life.
Some common symptoms of nerve damage include:
Although there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, treatments such as pain-relieving medications, managing blood sugar to prevent progression, and lifestyle changes like exercise and maintaining your weight are available.
Ijeoma Linda Bethel, DNP and her expert team help diagnose and treat patients living with diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetes leads to poor blood circulation. This is because high blood glucose levels impair blood vessels and block blood flow. Diabetes increases your risk of peripheral arterial disease — a condition that occurs when narrowed arteries restrict blood flow to your limbs.
PAD occurs when the legs or arms don’t receive enough blood circulation to keep up with your body’s demands. This signifies an influx of fatty deposits in the arteries, causing a narrowing of arteries and restricting blood flow to your legs, and sometimes, your arms.
A sore or cut can take longer to heal without proper circulation. This can lead to ulcers or gangrene — the death of skin tissue.
Symptoms of PAD include:
Like diabetic neuropathy, PAD is not curable. However, many treatments are available to minimize symptoms and improve your well-being.
These may include:
PAD affects between 8-12 million Americans. However, the numbers are expected to be higher because many forms of PAD go undiagnosed.
From taking medications to going to doctor’s appointments, living with diabetes requires lots of management. Checking your feet might seem like the last thing on your mind. However, it’s the best way to stay on top of your health and prevent conditions from worsening
Here are some tips to ensure you have healthy feet:
Check the tops and bottoms of your feet looking for cuts, redness, warts, and changes in the skin and toenails. Use a mirror to check the bottoms, or ask a family member for help.
Wash your feet every day with warm or hot water. Refrain from soaking your feet since that can dry out your skin. Dry your feet with a clean towel, and apply lotion to the tops and bottoms. Avoid getting lotion between the toes since this could lead to infection.
Always wear good-fitting shoes and socks. Check your shoes before putting them on for pebbles or other rubbish. Never go barefoot.
Trim your toenails in a straight-cut fashion or file them down. This can prevent toenails from cutting your skin or snagging on clothing.
Never remove corns or calluses yourself; always seek help from a podiatrist or medical professional. Using over-the-counter solutions can cause more harm than good.
Exercise is a great way to keep the blood flowing in your feet. Put your feet up when you’re sitting, and wiggle your toes and circle your feet.
Even if you haven’t noticed changes in your feet, it’s best to have a healthcare provider check them every time you have an appointment.
Don’t wait. Schedule an appointment to monitor your diabetes and check your feet today. Call 361-298-3362 to schedule an appointment, or book online.