Diabetic Foot – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood sugar/glucose levels of the body are too high. Glucose is what gives you energy and is distributed to your cells with the help of a hormone called Insulin that is produced by the pancreas. Sometimes, the body may fail to produce enough insulin or use it well to break down the glucose properly. This causes the glucose to remain in the body and doesn’t reach your cells. Excess glucose levels in the body can cause diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
Diabetes is usually segregated into Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
- genetic condition that is usually detected early on in life
Type 2 diabetes
- usually associated with unhealthy diets and lifestyles and may develop over time
- Can develop in some women during pregnancy, most likely to be temporary and last only till child birth
- Women who experience gestational diabetes are prone to developing type 2 diabetes later on in life
How does diabetes affect the foot?
Diabetes can commonly affect the foot due to nerve damage. A large number of people with diabetes face some sort of nerve damage, that can lead to diabetic foot problems and complications. This is often referred to as ‘diabetic neuropathy” and is common among people with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy may cause tingling sensations, pain and even loss of feeling in the feet.
Loss of feeling may be dangerous as a person may not realize when they get wounded on the foot. An open cut/blister or wound may lead to infection and inflammation of the foot. If not treated soon enough, it can contribute to complications like gangrene and other diabetic foot problems. The infection may also not heal properly due to loss of blood circulation in the feet.
When should you consult a doctor?
If your wound does not seem to heal within a few days or if you notice it getting worse, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Common symptoms of diabetic foot problems include:
- Swelling/inflammation or redness of the foot
- Cuts/bruises/blisters/ulcers that don’t seem to heal
- Calluses with dried blood inside
- Blackening of a wound or foot infection with bad smell
- Painful skin on the feet
How to prevent foot infections due to diabetes
- Wash your feet everyday with warm water and soap (avoid soaking as it can dry up the skin)
- Check your feet once a day for cuts/ulcers/blisters
- Keep your toenails clean and cut
- In the case of corns, get them removed safely by your doctor
- Get your feet checked during your health checkups
- Wear full-length socks to protect your feet