Here at The Surgical Clinic, we know the link between diabetes and your feet. We hope this article will help you understand how important taking care of your feet is when you have diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that is caused by high blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes are typically diagnosed young, adults develop type 2 diabetes.
The unhealthy glucose levels happen when the body either can’t produce or becomes resistant to certain hormones. Specifically, the hormone insulin which regulates blood sugar.
Managing this disease usually requires medication and watching the food you eat. Because this disease affects several body functions, people with this disease may experience several diabetic complications. For instance, high blood sugar counts can damage the nerves around your blood vessels and even lead to a heart attack.
Diabetes and Your Feet
Since diabetes deals with your blood, complications can be found anywhere in your body. Most commonly, it can cause nerve damage to spread to your feet. For example, you may find numbness in your legs and feet or a reduced ability to fight off infections. This combination can lead to serious problems, sometimes even life-risking, if not carefully monitored or identified.
While you have healthy feet, it might seem easy to take care of them. Perhaps you occasionally have to deal with an ingrown toenail, a wound, or general foot pain. However, foot problems are the leading cause of diabetic inpatient hospital care.
Foot Health Problems from Diabetes
The most common problems leading to inpatient hospital care include ulcers, soft tissue infections, bone infection, abscesses, and gangrene. All of these problems usually come from one or more of the following health risks:
- Peripheral diabetic neuropathy (numbness)
- Peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation)
- A weakened immune system
The good news is, most of these inpatient cases are completely preventable with proper care and inspection during regular podiatrist visits. Because this is their medical specialty, doctors of podiatric medicine will be able to evaluate your overall foot health.
For instance, they will evaluate your foot health by checking your blood flow and looking for nerve damage. Also, they will identify any problems or risks between diabetes and your feet. All in all, visiting your podiatrist regularly will allow them to treat problems before hospital care or even amputation is needed.
How Can I Keep My Feet Healthy with Diabetes?
Many people with diabetes wonder ‘What can I do myself to help prevent these problems?” Diabetics can rest assured that there are several habits that they can use to ensure foot health. Doing the following will consequently keep your feet healthy between visits to your podiatrist.
- 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.
- Check the inside your shoes for loose objects such as rocks or metallic fragments.
- Avoid walking barefoot outside your home.
- Do not soak your feet, and avoid extreme temperatures such as hot water soaks or heating pads.
- Maintain healthy blood glucose levels and check them daily.
- Wear shoes with a comfortable width, length, and depth to avoid excessive rubbing/friction.
- Wash your feet daily with warm, soapy water and dry well, especially between your toes.
- Do not use acids, chemical corn removers, or attempt to perform “bathroom surgery.”
- Avoid smoking (or use of other tobacco products) and drinking.
- Get regular examinations of the feet by your podiatrist, typically every couple of months.
As you follow this list, make sure you also do everything that your main diabetes provider prescribes. Staying healthy is more than just taking care of one area of your body at a time. In fact, maintaining balance and a healthy lifestyle will bring you many more benefits for years to come.
If you have more questions about what you can do to manage diabetes, talk with your doctor.
Currently, The Surgical Clinic has one podiatrist with board certification. Get to know Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Timothy Bush DPM, a Board Certified Podiatrist at The Surgical Clinic.
The Surgical Clinic is here to provide quality, compassionate foot care to the Nashville, TN area. If you have diabetes and want a checkup, schedule your appointment today by calling The Surgical Clinic at (615) 329-7887.