Diabetes is a multi-faceted condition that can have a number of different negative effects throughout the body.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this condition, it often means many changes in one’s life and the added attention of medical professionals in multiple fields—and that most certainly includes podiatry.
At Omega Medical Group, we are highly invested in diabetic foot care for our patients who need it. If you live with diabetes, both general management of the condition and a focus on direct foot maintenance are crucial elements toward future comfort, health, and mobility. Even if you do not feel any problems currently exist in your feet and ankles, we still cannot stress the importance of preventative care enough.
Good diabetic care as a whole begins with a fundamental understanding of the condition and what care is trying to prevent. We will conduct a brief rundown of what diabetes itself is before going into its potential effects on the feet, specifically.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that is signified by an excessive level of sugar (also called glucose) in the blood.
Under ideal conditions, the glucose in your blood is used by your cells for energy. A hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas, aids the work of transferring glucose to the cells.
When something is not right in the levels of glucose and/or insulin in the blood, diabetes can develop—and with it, a host of damaging effects over time.
What is the Difference Between Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes?
Diabetes tends to be classified into two different “types” depending upon the circumstances surrounding development of the condition.
In Type-1 diabetes, the pancreas does not create insulin. This happens due to a disorder in the body’s auto-immune system, causing it to attack and damage the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Without insulin, the body is unable to properly process the glucose in its bloodstream. People with this type of diabetes must receive an external source of insulin every day instead. The results of not receiving insulin can be fatal.
The autoimmune disorder that is responsible for type-1 diabetes is considered to be a result of genetic makeup. Type-1 diabetes used to be commonly referred to as “juvenile-onset diabetes” because it often begins or is discovered during childhood; however, this is not the case with every patient.
Type-2 diabetes is a much more frequent form of the condition. In this case, the body still often produces at least some insulin; however, the amount produced is not enough to fully process the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
It is also possible for cells to be resistant to insulin. Fat, liver, and muscle cells tend to be more resistant. People who are considered medically obese, as a result, are at a higher risk for developing type-2 diabetes than those who are not.
Type-2 diabetes tends to be milder than type-1, but both must be taken very seriously.
It should also be noted that, while certain life choices may influence the development and severity of type-2 diabetes, there can be many uncontrollable influences as well. You may never know the full story, and nobody certainly “deserves” to have diabetes. Such thinking is inconsiderate and not helpful in the least.
How Can Diabetes Affect the Feet?
The effects of diabetes on the feet can create two particularly dangerous situations over time.
First, excess glucose in the blood can damage circulation, which reduces blood flow to the feet. This area already has a challenge being so far from the heart, and tend to feel the effects of reduced circulation first. Injuries that happen on the feet can take longer to heal with less blood flow providing cells the nutrients and growth factors they need for repair. Sometimes, healing may not happen at all without special attention.
Second, the condition can cause damage to the nerves in the feet. This can result in pain, tingling, and other sensations, but even more dangerous is losing sensation entirely.
With reduced sensation in the feet, an injury can occur without someone even realizing it. And if it has difficulty healing (or doesn’t heal at all), continued use of the foot and lack of treatment can cause even a small nick or cut to worsen into a diabetic ulcer. The dangers of infection are high, and the consequences can be as severe as amputation of the limb, which unfortunately happens.
But there is good news:
Taking proper measures beforehand can greatly reduce the chances of serious complications occurring.
Diabetic Foot Care as a Part of Life!
When it comes to taking care of your feet with diabetes, there are two big elements to consider:
- Managing your diabetes as a whole.
- Paying attention to your feet.
For diabetes management, technology has made the task easier than ever! Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems can provide data on your blood glucose levels throughout the day without the need to stop and stick your finger.
Systems such as Freestyle Libre and Dexcom require the installation of a sensor on the body that transmits testing results to a device such as a smartphone or tablet. They can be well worth considering for many patients, but the traditional methods still work as well. The important part is regularly monitoring your levels and reacting as necessary.
There is no real technology for this second crucial task, however: inspecting your feet daily. By putting eyes daily on your foot health, you can detect problems you may not eventually even feel happening!
Make a habit out of inspecting your feet today and moving forward, reserving a convenient time like after a shower or just before bed. Look for any signs of injury or anything out of the ordinary (e.g. discoloration, paleness, ingrown toenails, warts) and give us a call when you find something.
We may not ask you to come in every time you report something, and instead ask you to keep a further eye on things. But this gives us a good running history of what’s happening to your feet and a much higher probability of taking early action to prevent serious problems when we need to.
Diabetic Foot Care is a Commitment
Living with diabetes means making some changes and additions to your life; there is no doubt about that. But having a dedicated podiatrist in your corner will make many aspects of your continued care so much easier now and into the future.
Omega Medical Group is here to help all patients with diabetic foot care needs. Call (305) 514-0404 to schedule an appointment at our North Miami Beach or Miami Shores offices. If you prefer to reach us electronically, our online contact form is always open. Just fill it out and a member of our staff will reach out to you.