Have you often wondered what all the fuss is about with Diabetes and feet?
Diabetes is a chronic incurable medical condition, in which too much glucose (sugar) is present in the blood. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy.
The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help 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 sugars to build up in the tissues and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
The presence of high blood glucose levels over a long period of time may result in damage to the body tissues and functions, reducing the quality of the cells, which can over time affect the sensation and circulation in the feet.
Diabetes is becoming increasingly more common throughout the world and an estimated 500,000 people in the UK have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed!
It is predicted by a clear set of symptoms, but it still often goes undiagnosed.
There are two types of Diabetes –
- Type 1 usually occurs in childhood and is treated with insulin injections.
- Type 2 is often known as late onset diabetes and is controlled with medication and/or diet.
So what are the signs of Diabetes?
Undiagnosed or uncontrolled, the affects of diabetes on the body can be noticed by some classic signs such as:-
- Increased thirst
- Frequency of urine
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or pain in the hands, feet and/or legs.
- A general feeling of being unwell
How does Diabetes affect the Feet?
A condition called diabetic neuropathy can occur over time. Commonly, this manifests itself as peripheral neuropathy, and usually affects the sensory nerves in the legs leading to the feet. If your nervous system is even slightly damaged, the extremities of the body can become numb and sensation impaired, which is really dangerous as you may not be able to feel (pain) foot problems until they have developed.
It is key to ensure you have regular foot examinations, which is what we advocate in our Clinics – prevention and professional care is definitely key here -and there is no substitute to professional check up and care.
With diabetes, normal skin lubrication may be impaired and the feet may become dry and cracked, and for this reason it is important that a specific foot moisturiser is used to hydrate the skin. We always recommend our Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion with Emu oil to encourage healing and reduce inflammation while promoting good hygiene. It is also additionally gorgeous to use. Emu oil has the same irritant value as water when applied to the skin so is safe to use as it is suitable for all skin types, and this is an important issue when diabetic.
Complications from callus left untreated and unchecked may develop into neuropathic ulcers, which are so much more difficult to treat and heal as the immune system may be damaged or not functioning correctly, poor blood circulation will also mean that the wound takes longer to heal. Infections may quickly spread and become gangrenous. It is a fact that lower limb amputation is a common risk for diabetics.
Foot care tips for diabetics
There are a number of healthcare tips that should be adhered to in order to make sure your feet stay as healthy as possible.
Examine your feet yourself – then know when to seek professional help!
Feet are somewhat like teeth. It is easy to ignore mild problems with them, hoping that they will go away. However, the best course of action is to regularly examine your own feet for the slightest sign of ulcers or problems.
This can be particularly important if you are suffering from poor circulation and numbness. Treat any cut, graze, bruise or mark with suspicion and don’t hesitate to get expert advice.
Take extreme care of your feet, making sure that your socks and footwear are comfortable and fit well. If your eyesight has diminished due to diabetes, make sure that a professional is on hand to examine your feet and cut your nails.
Have your feet examined by a professional
Making sure that you receive a regular check-up from a health professional is important as any problems will be detected at an early stage, and treatment should be relatively simple and painless. At our clinics we offer a specific diabetic clinic with monthly check-ups which offer preventive professional care.
As a diabetic patient, you should know the importance of paying special attention to your feet with regard to cleanliness. The cutting of nails, the type of shoe, the hosiery that you wear and other matters concerning care of your feet.
If you are suffering from a diabetic related illness always see a foot specialist and never attempt treatment yourself including nail cutting or callus removal.
It is very re-assuring for a diabetic sufferer to have a good relationship with a foot professional, someone to talk through concerns and give expert care and advice when health is compromised.
It is important to know however, that complications can be kept at bay by keeping to a healthy diet, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and incorporating regular activity into your daily regime in order to keep blood sugar levels within recommended blood glucose level guidelines.
GENERAL DO’S AND DON’TS
- Avoid extremes of heat, particularly in baths; bath water should be just comfortable and you should not soak in it.
- Avoid hot water bottles:
- If you use an electric blanket, be sure to remove it before you get into bed. By all means wear thick socks or hose in bed, but be sure that they are not tight. Avoid lengthy exposure to dampness or cold.
- If your skin is dry, then gently massage a little Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion, into the skin after bathing your feet – avoid rubbing hard. If your skin is moist, ensure that you keep it clean and dry.
- Never use any strong antiseptic solution such as iodine or any so called ‘corn-cures’. Many of these ‘corn-cures’ contain a corrosive substance which will cause extreme damage to your skin.
- Avoid using adhesive strapping directly over a wound- seek professional help if a cut appears on the feet.
- Do watch your feet for any sign of changes. You should seek professional advice if you notice any pain or change of colour of your lower limb