According to the American Diabetes Association , every 23 seconds another American is diagnosed. In all, twenty nine million of us are bravely dealing with the many challenges of this insidious disease. November is “Diabetes Awareness Month”; an annual event intended to educate and improve the lives of those living with diabetes.
Over time, elevated blood sugar can hinder your body’s ability to fight infections, and potentially damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves and cardiovascular system. Living with diabetes does not mean you can’t live well. Say focused on your overall health. Follow your physician’s direction concerning medication and diet. Stay active and strive to keep your blood glucose levels within a safe range.
Healthy feet are especially important for diabetics. Problems can develop quickly and can be quite serious. The experts at the ADA share staggering statistics; more than 60% of foot and leg amputations, globally, are the result of complications from diabetes. That’s huge!The American Podiatric Medical Association reports that with regular foot exams by a podiatrist, between 45%-85% can be avoided. That’s impressive.
Foot ulcers and infection are a common causes of hospitalization for those suffering with diabetes. It is important to check your feet often for foot ulcers, signs of infection, calluses, redness and cracked or dry skin. Open sores (ulcers) are often found on the underside of the big toe, or the ball of the foot and the bottom of the heel. These are pressure points and are highly susceptible to injury.
Take charge of your health and take care of your feet. Wash your feet daily, and check for signs of injury. It is important to keep your feet and legs hydrated. Keep your toenails trimmed;cut them straight across and do not cut the cuticles. If you are unable to comfortably reach your feet to trim your nails, contact us.
Wear well-fitting, comfortable socks and shoes at all times; do not walk barefoot. For good circulation in the feet and legs, elevate your feet when sitting for long periods of time. Take a five minute break several times a day to exercise your feet. Wiggle your toes, move the feet side to side and up and down, or draw circles in the air with your feet.
If you notice any of the following symptoms of diabetic complications , contact us and schedule an appointment.
- Changes in the texture, color or temperature of the skin on your feet
- Pain or swelling in the legs, foot or ankle
- Open sores that are not healing
- Ingrown toenails
- Nail fungus
- Corns or calluses
Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)is a complication of diabetes that affects the feet and legs. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in the feet and legs. Damaged nerves prevent us from feeling pain and pressure, and can lead to serious problems. The symptoms of neuropathy are often more noticeable in the evening and include:
- Numbness, or a tingling/burning sensation in feet and hands
- Leg and foot cramps
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of reflexes
- Poor balance and coordination
Diabetes is a serious, long-term illness that causes high blood sugar levels. Complications cause problems with vision, as well as feet and legs. In addition to seeing a family physician, diabetics should have annual health screenings by a podiatrist and an ophthalmologist.
There is no cure for diabetes, but by controlling your glucose levels and following the recommendations of your health care providers you will lessen your chance of complications.
So now you know. Remember the words of the beloved Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Steer yourself in the right direction and make healthy living a priority. Get those check-ups this month.