Diabetes can affect all parts of a body. You're worried about checking your blood sugar, changing your diet, exercising, and taking your medicine and insulin. But what kind of toll does diabetes take on your feet? Long story short, it can have a big effect. One of the main reasons a person with diabetes may end up in the hospital is due to foot related problems, such as infections of the foot, wounds, ulcers, and gangrene. Unfortunately, if you have diabetes and are not controlling your sugar and taking care of your feet, outcomes such as foot surgery and amputation of the toe, foot, or even ankle and lower leg are a possibility.
On the bright side, you do have control over your health and your feet! First and foremost, always keep your sugar in control. Follow your doctors advice and guidelines. As for your feet, start seeing your podiatrist soon after you develop diabetes. Nothing helps more then proactive and preventative health care! Visiting your podiatrist early on allows for a baseline assessment of your feet and then is it much easier to detect when a problem arises.
When you have diabetes, sores and broken skin can become ulcerous very quickly. If you catch it in the beginning stages, it is much easier to treat and much less painful. It is important to set up an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible if you notice any new signs or symptoms as it may prevent further pain, hospitalization, and loss of toes or foot due to amputation. Some of the signs to look out for include cracked dry feet, numbness or tingling in your lower legs, feet, or toes, pain, variations or changing skin tone, bleeding, bruising, fungus, swelling of the ankles or feet, or any other new symptom that was not present before.
How can you stay proactive at home?
-Start by following a healthy diet and maintaining proper blood sugar control.
-If you smoke, look into smoking cessation options. Many hospitals and state run options are available and will provide free materials to help you quit.
- It is important to monitor your feet daily! When you first get up and when you go to bed are great times to look at your feet. Using a mirror or having a family member look at your feet everyday will allow you to see if there are any kinds of new sores or breaks in the skin.
-Wash your feet everyday, but test the water with your hand or a thermometer first. If you are experiencing neuropathy, you may not be able to tell the temperature by dipping your feet in, and you can scald your foot and not even realize it.
-Wear proper fitted shoes! By wearing proper fitted shoes, you decrease the chance of developing sores on your feet. Also, wear shoes inside and outside. You may not realize you have stepped on something if you are barefoot.
-Keep your toenails trimmed and clean.
-See your podiatrist often, even if you do not have any current foot problems. If you have diabetes, you want frequent assessments of your feet. You can also use these appointments to discuss any concerns you may have about your feet and talk about ways to keep your feet healthy!
-Contact your doctor if any new symptoms or sores being to develop.