November 23, 2015
Diabetes and your Feet:
Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that is caused by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. This disease can cause a number/variety of complications, including numbness in the feet and an inability to fight off infections. This combination can lead to serious problems, sometimes life threatening, if not carefully monitored or identified.
Foot problems are the leading cause of hospitalizations for diabetics. The most common problems leading to these hospitalizations include ulcerations, soft tissue infections, bone infection, abscesses, and gangrene of the toes/foot. All of these problems usually come from one of (or a combination of) the following three health risks: peripheral neuropathy (numbness), peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation), or decreased ability to fight infections. The good news is, most of the aforementioned problems/causes of hospitalization are completely preventable with proper care and inspection during regular visits to your Podiatrist. Your podiatric physician will be able to evaluate your sensation, blood flow, identify and problems or risks, and treat them before a hospitalization or even amputation is needed.
Many diabetics wonder 'What can I do myself to help prevent these problems?" There are several measures diabetics can take on a regular/daily basis to ensure the health of their feet between visits to their Podiatrist...
1. You or a family member visually inspect your feet daily. Be sure to note any blisters, calluses, bleeding, redness, swelling, or other concerning/abnormal lesions.
2. Check the inside of your shoes prior to use for loose objects such as rocks or metallic fragments.
3. Avoid walking barefoot outside your home.
4. Do not soak the feet, and avoid extreme temperatures such as hot water soaks/heating pads.
5. Maintain a healthy blood glucose level and check daily.
6. Ensure you are wearing a shoe with adequate width, length, and depth to avoid excessive rubbing/friction.
7. Wash your feet daily with warm, soapy water and dry well, particularly between the toes.
8. Do not use acids, chemical corn removers, or attempt to perform "bathroom surgery."
9. Avoid smoking (or use of other tobacco products) and drinking.
10. Get regular examinations of the feet by your podiatrist, typically every couple months.