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Living With Diabetes And Managing Your Feet

Managing Your Feet with Diabetes...

Diabetes is a disease that can bring upon several side effects – especially in your feet. If you are a diabetic person, you might want to take extra care of your feet to prevent them from being affected by your condition. A report by the CDC has shown that people with diabetes who were aged 45 years or older were ten times as likely to lose a leg or foot to amputation as to their nondiabetic counterparts. It also mentioned that 60% of leg amputations in adults in America were of diabetic patients.

Two main types of diabetic feet complications:

  1. Diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes can make your feet feel numb – you might not be able to feel any type of pain, heat or cold whatsoever. This is caused when diabetes damages your nerves. The most troubling part of diabetic neuropathy is that you might not realize the damage to the skin and tissue before it is too late. You might not respond to the potential damage and infection in your feet which can increase the level of complications. Nerve damage can also lead to foot ulcers. Diabetes related nerve damage is more common in people who have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, are overweight, or are over 40 years of age.

  1. Peripheral vascular disease

Diabetes can affect blood flow. When blood circulation is poor, it takes a

longer amount of time for cuts and sores to heal properly. If infections don’t heal on time then it consequently increases the risk of an ulcer or a gangrene developing. Gangrene is the technical term given when the skin tissue dies.
Warning Signs:

Contact your doctor immediately if you start experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • You might feel tingling in your feet
  • You might notice changes in the shape of your feet. In this case, try to avoid walking until you go to visit a foot specialist. Don’t try to fit your feet into old shoes as it might cause unnecessary pain.
  • You might notice corns, warts and ingrown toenails. Do not try to take them out yourself as it can cause more harm. Try to see as soon as possible.
  • Your toenails might turn thick and yellow.
  • The skin on your feet might look dry and have sores.
  • You may lose hair on your feet, toes and lower legs.
  • You might experience a loss of vibratory sense along with loss of thermal sense and loss of feeling to light touch.
  • The skin of your feet might look cracked and calloused. The temperature and color of your feet might also change.
  • You might feel pain in your thighs, calves and buttocks during physical activity.
  • Fungus infections such as ‘athlete’s foot’ might appear between your toes.

Caring for your feet with diabetes:

  • Do not smoke. Smoking further reduces the blood supply to your feet and complicates the pre-existing problems.
  • If you have experiencing changes to the shape of your toes and feet then it might be better for you to get therapeutic shoes.
  • Limit alcohol as it might worsen the symptoms.
  • Check your feet daily for any sores or open wounds which could lead to infections. You should also check for red spots, blisters, changes in color etc.
  • Clip your toenails after washing your feet and do not cut the corners. If you are finding it difficult to cut your nail straight, as a foot specialist to do it for you.
  • Do not walk barefeet whether you are indoors or outdoors.
  • Only wash your feet after you’ve checked the temperature with your elbow. The nerve receptors in your feet might not work well and if you dip your feet directly, you might burn yourself unknowingly. While you should make it a point to wash your feet regularly with warm water (especially the part between your toes), never soak your feet in the water for a prolonged period of time.
  • Use talcum powder to keep your feet safe from infections.
  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity helps to improve blood circulation to your feet and can also help to manage your sugar levels.
  • Don’t buy shoes that need “breaking in”. Make sure that the shoes are immediately comfortable. Try to request the salesperson to show you shoes with deep toe boxes as well as shoes made out of leather/ other flexible upper material.
  • Don’t ignore even the most minor of injuries on your feet. It might look small to you, but for diabetic patients even the smallest of wounds can be very risky. Call your doctor immediately.
  • Avoid using tape or any sort of sticky products on your feet as they can rip your skin.
  • Remember to have your doctor give you a comprehensive foot exam at least four times a year.