Foot problems are common in people who have diabetes. When the rising blood sugar level is not controlled, it starts affecting the blood vessels and nerves in the body. This eventually interferes with functioning of many body parts such as your heart, kidneys, eyes, and even the feet. Foot problems such as ulcers or infection can cause a lot of discomfort and in severe cases may also require amputation. However, it is possible to prevent diabetic foot diseases with daily routine of foot-care and maintaining a good glycaemic control. So, let’s understand what causes diabetic foot problems and the right ways to care for your feet.
How serious are diabetic foot problems?
Foot problems caused by diabetes is a matter of concern because it increases risk of ulcers, infections and finally amputation. Here are some numbers that reveal seriousness of diabetic foot problems.
- Diabetic foot problems are responsible for 50% of hospitalization
- Foot problems attribute to nearly 27% of medical cost of diabetes
- Nearly 15% people with diabetes develop foot ulcers
- About 1.5% of patients with diabetic foot require an amputation
What are the types of diabetic foot disease?
Diabetic foot disease is mainly of two types viz. diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Let’s understand what happens in both.
Neuropathy means damage to the nerves. If the blood sugar is not controlled it starts damaging the nerves in your feet, which causes loss of sensitivity. People who develop neuropathy cannot feel pain, or sense temperature change by touch. This can make them vulnerable for injuries like cuts, burns, or blisters without even realising. Neuropathy also leads to joint problems restricting the movement, development of calluses, and drying of skin.
Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease causes fatty deposits in the blood vessels especially in the lower limbs. This reduces the blood flow to the feet, which can lead to pain, infection, and slow healing of wounds. In severe cases of infection and gangrene foot amputation becomes necessary.
How to care for your feet every day?
If you have diabetes, your doctor may advice you to get your feet checked regularly. Apart from the examinations at the clinic, you too need to examine your feet daily and take some preventive measures. Here are some practical ways to care for your feet.
1 – Get your feet checked from a specialist
You must get your feet checked from podiatrist at least once in a year. A podiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in finding and treating foot and ankle problems. Regular feet examination by a specialist can help to detect foot problems at initial stage.
2 – Examine your feet closely every day
Examine your feet every day and check if there are any cuts, blisters, red spots or swelling. Since neuropathy reduces the sensation in your feet, you may not notice or feel any pricking at the time of injury. Use a mirror or take someone’s help to closely look at the bottom of your feet for the same signs.
3 – Wash your feet everyday
Wash your feet with lukewarm water and dry them thoroughly. Make sure to dry the space between your toes completely. Leaving your feet wet can increase risk of fungal infection. Use a gentle moisturiser over the top and bottom of feet to prevent dryness of skin.
4 – Pay attention to your nails
Trim your nails carefully keeping them straight across and file the sharp edges. Check for any ingrown toenails as these can cause an infection. Do speak to your doctor or podiatrist about the right way to trim your nails. Do not try to remove any corns with sharp object yourself, it may cause infection.
5 – Wear proper footwear
Expert suggest that footwear for people with diabetes should have a wide toe box, soft cushioned soles, and laces or Velcro for fitting and adjustments. Always check your shoes from inside to make sure there are no tiny sharp objects by chance that may cause an injury.
6 – Promote blood circulation to feet
When sitting use a foot stool to keep your legs elevated. Make sure to move your feet and legs every 5 minutes to keep the blood moving. If you are sitting for a long period of time, keep your legs straight. Do not sit cross-legged as it impedes the blood flow.