What is Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly. This is because insulin is lacking, or the body’s way of converting glucose into energy is not working.
The two common types of diabetes:
- Type 1 – Usually starts in children and young adults. People with this type of diabetes require daily insulin injections.
- Type 2 – The most common type of diabetes and usually affects people over the age of 40 years.
How Diabetes can Affect your Feet
Feet are supplied with blood to keep them healthy. They also have lots of nerves as a warning system. If diabetes is poorly controlled for a long period of time it may lead to:
- Nerve Damage – This reduces the feeling in the feet and is called peripheral neuropathy. Nerve Damage may mean that you no longer notice the stone in your shoe, due to loss of feeling in your feet. This could lead to an injury or wound you may not feel, and possibly infection.
- Poor Circulation – This is also known as peripheral vascular disease. If you have poor circulation, any injures, wounds or infections to your feet (including cuts, burns and scratches) will take longer to heal. This is due to less blood flowing into your feet. Blood provides energy to the muscles and aids in healing any tissue damage,
Most foot problems in people who have diabetes occur when injuries and wounds (often infected) go unnoticed and untreated.
How to Detect Early Changes
A yearly check up by your podiatrist will help to detect any changes early – before they become a problem.
- Your podiatrist will examine your circulation by feeling your pulses or assessing your pulses with a doppler.
- Your podiatrist will also assess your nerve sensation by testing pressure sensitivity, vibration and/ or reflexes.
- Your podiatrist will also assess general foot conditions which may lead to future problems and will show you how to monitor your feet in-between consultations.
How to Prevent Problems
- Protect your feet from injury
- Inspect your feet every day (your podiatrist can show you how)
- See your podiatrist immediately if something is not healing or you find a red swollen area.
- The best type of footwear fits well and protects your feet. Wherever possible, wear shoes to avoid injury.
- Where possible, wear lace-up shoes which are deep and broad enough, especially at the toes.
- Check inside your shoes for rough edges or exposed tracks – shake them out to make sure there is nothing inside