Diabetes and the Foot
Diabetes is when blood sugar levels are very high (hyperglycaemia). Insulin is a hormone the body releases to lower blood sugar levels. People have diabetes for two reasons; the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the body becomes resistant to the insulin produced.
There are three types of diabetes. The first type is known as type 1 diabetes. The blood sugar in this type of diabetes is controlled by injecting insulin into the body. The second type is known as type 2 diabetes. The blood sugar levels are controlled with diet and tablets. 95% of people who suffer from diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes. The third type is known as gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes happens during pregnancy and will only be until the birth.
People who suffer from diabetes can live a normal life as long as the diabetes is controlled well. If not controlled properly, this could lead to many other problems. You could experience problems with different parts of the body but especially with lower limbs and feet. Feet could become insensitive to pain, changes to the nerves and muscles could occur and the likelihood of suffering from infections would increase. Serious foot and leg problems are five times more common in people who suffer from diabetes.
Some signs you may have diabetes are; feeling wearing thirsty, having to urinate excessively and losing weight for no reason. Type 1 diabetes can begin very quickly. Type 2 diabetes kicks in slowly, it takes time and being overweight will be associated to it. Some people may not show any signs or symptoms, it may just be picked up on a routine check.
Around 2% of people suffer from diabetes in the UK. Most people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will be under the age of 20. Type 2 diabetes is usually later in life and especially after 50 years of age. Gestational diabetes in pregnancy is around 1-3%.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be controlled but there is no cure for it. A good healthy diet is a must for people with diabetes. Seek advice from a dietician or a medical practitioner for this. A healthy lifestyle will improve your quality of life. It is important to take part in regular exercise, not only will it help maintain a healthy weight, it will keep your heart healthy too. Along with a good diet and exercise, getting plenty of rest is vital too.
You may have to take tablets to control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. The tablets that are usually given for this are Biguanides and Sulphonylureas. Sulphonylureas increases the amount of insulin that is released into the blood. Biguanides lowers the amount of fresh glucose made and increases the existing levels of insulin in the body. It is necessary that tablets are taken as prescribed for them to be effective.
Insulin is injected into the body. Diabetics are shown how to inject themselves as you may need to inject yourself twice a day. There are different types of insulin which work in different ways so you will be prescribed the one right for you.
How diabetes affects the feet
In diabetes, the common problems are foot problems. Reduced blood supply to limbs in diabetes could put the foot at risk. We will discuss some of the things to do or not to do when it comes to your feet:-
* Inspect your feet on a daily basis. If you are not able to reach or see properly then ask a relative to have a look for you. You should look out for any calluses or corns, any bruising, any cracks in the skin or areas of inflammation. If you notice any of these problems then see a podiatrist.
* Use a moisturising cream on your feet everyday. Make sure you rub it well into the skin all over the feet but not in-between the toes. Stay clear from creams with acid in them unless prescribed by a Registered Podiatrist.
* When washing your feet be careful at how hot or cold the water is. Feet can lose sensitivity with diabetes thus they are unable to feel whether the water is too hot or not. Check the temperature with a thermometer to be sure. We do not recommend soaking your feet in water as feet can become fairly dry in doing so.
* It is important to wear shoes that fit properly. Be sure to look into the shoes and feel for anything that may hurt the feet before putting them on. Always wear some kind of footwear in and out of the house, do not walk around bare foot.
* When cutting your toenails, always cut them straight across and round the edges with a file. Do not cut nails too short. If you have thick nails you may want to seek advice from a professional. If you struggle to reach your feet or see properly then ask a relative to help.
* Seek advice from a podiatrist if you have any calluses or corns. Do not try to treat these with corn plasters or creams. A podiatrist can recommend the right treatment for you.
We recommend diabetic patients have regular check ups at Dr Foot Podiatry Clinic.
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