Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s method of converting glucose into energy is not working as it should; meaning the amount of glucose in the blood is elevated.
There are two common types of diabetes being:
Type 1, also known as insulin dependent diabetes. This usually affects children and young adults. People with this type of diabetes require daily insulin injections.
Type 2, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is by far the most common and usually affects people over the age of 40 years.
Diabetes, whether it is type 1 or 2 can cause numerous long term complications in the body, but the main one being the affect on blood supply in our body by narrowing arteries.
The most common reason a diabetic patient is administered into hospital is due to their feet.
How does diabetes affect the feet?
1. Poor circulation, causing decreased healing rates, dry skin, cold feet, cramping etc.
2. Loss of sensation. The nerves need blood supply too. This may cause numbness, burning and injury without pain.
3. Muscle weakness
4. Foot deformity
If you have poor circulation, you will need to take extra care to protect your feet from injury. Most foot problems in people who have diabetes occur when injuries, and often infections, go unnoticed or untreated, or when healing is delayed due to poor circulation.
If you are a diabetic, it is very important to see a podiatrist at least once a year. A podiatrist conducts a diabetic foot assessment to check for nerve damage, poor circulation, examine feet for skin, joint and nail problems and a footwear assessment.
There are a number of things a podiatrist can do to help prevent ulceration and amputations.
1. Treating corns and callouses
2. Treating cracked heels
3. Managing thick and/or ingrown toenails
4. Assessing for foot deformity
5. Provide footwear advice
The best defence against these things occurring is to maintain healthy practices, such as:
1. Good control of blood sugar levels
2. Regular inspection of feet (top and bottom)
3. Regular checks with a podiatrist every 6-12 months
4. Cuts or abrasions should have antiseptic applied immediately and dressed or covered, and
5. If there are any changes to the feet see a doctor or podiatrist.