Your feet and Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus or commonly referred to as diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects the body’s ability to absorbs sugars from food. Normally, the body breaks down carbohydrates from food and converts it to glucose, a simple sugar our cells use for energy. In order for our cells to absorb glucose, insulin is needed. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreases to control blood sugar levels in our body.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus. Type 1 is the loss of insulin producing cells in the pancreas and Type 2 is the lack of insulin production by the pancreas, which may be combined with the lack of response or resistance the cells and tissues to insulin.
Due to the lack glucose absorption in the body, there is an increase in blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can damage or obstruct small blood vessels all over the body resulting to renal problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, blindness and nerve damage.
Risk of Diabetic Foot
Since diabetes can cause obstruction to the small blood vessels, this can drastically decrease the blood flow and damage the nerve ending of the extremities especially the foot. The risk of having foot problems with diabetes are as follows:
- The patient has diabetes for a long time.
- The patient does not comply with the prescribed medications, leading to increased blood sugar levels.
- Lives a sedentary lifestyle
- The patient is smoker.
Lack of blood supply
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can reduce blood circulation to the feet; making the patient prone to infections after any injury to the foot. Below are signs of poor blood supply to the feet.
- Cold feet.
- Wounds are slow to heal.
- Feet look pale or bluish in color.
- Frequent leg cramps after walking a short distance.
Chronic diabetes can cause nerve damage due poor blood circulation. Symptoms of nerve damage are numbness or pins and needles sensation to the feet, while some patients feel a burning sensation in the legs during rest.
What to do?
- Take your diabetes medications regularly. Controlling your blood sugar levels is the key to preventing complications from diabetes.
- Stop smoking.
- Exercise. Regular activity will help improve blood circulation to your feet.
- Visit your podiatrist if you notice decrease sensation on your feet, if you have ulcers or cuts.
- Infections can quickly get out of control to blood infection and stays in the intensive care unit.
Diabetics are at high risk to impaired sensations, lack of blood flow, impaired nutritional status as well as impaired immune systems in most cases.
See a podiatrist to save you limb and your life as 5 year survival rate after an amputation is grim. Diabetic complications have killed more people than cancer in the US.
This it is a small problem still?
Dr. Kevin Lam