Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce insulin, either preventing it from producing sufficient insulin or making it resistant to the insulin that is produced. As a result, the blood glucose level is elevated.
In addition the other health risks that are presented by diabetes, patients often also experience symptoms in their feet and legs. The blood supply to the lower extremities is affected, and patients can develop diabetic neuropathy.
Neuropathy means that the nerves are damaged. The excessive level of glucose in the blood can damage the walls of the blood vessels that feed the nerves, particularly in the legs. As the result of this nerve damage, the ability to feel pain is lessened. Patients may be unaware of physical problems due to this loss of sensation and inability to feel pain. Consequently, people with diabetes are prone to developing foot ulcers and other foot problems.
Neuropathy is often described as a tingling or burning sensation. It can also present as a feeling of lost sensation, such as if one were wearing a glove. Symptoms may vary amongst patients based upon the particular type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected.
Typically, neuropathy begins in the longest nerves, which reach the toes. The symptoms of neuropathy include the following:
- Numbness and tingling in the feet, hands, legs, and arms;
- Burning sensation;
- Sharp pain that might feel like an electrical shock;
- Intense sensitivity to touch;
- Difficulty with coordination;
People who have diabetes are at a greatly increased risk of developing gangrene in the feet and requiring an amputation. In fact, the risk is increased by 15 times. Fortunately, the risk is decreased if a diabetic person is able to keep their blood sugars under good control. You should visit your doctor regularly, monitor your blood sugar levels, and take the medication that your doctor has prescribed.
Caring for Your Feet When You Have Diabetes
If you have diabetes, it is particularly important that you take good care of your feet. In addition to your visits with your regular physician, you should also see a podiatrist at least once a year.
If you develop a sore or blister on your feet, you should visit your doctor or podiatrist for treatment right away so that infection does not set in. If any ulceration, redness, or swelling develops, you should seek urgent medical treatment.
In addition to regular medical care, you can take the following steps to care for your feet:
- Make sure that your feet stay clean in order to prevent infection. Wash and dry them thoroughly each day.
- Wear shoes that are roomy and comfortable. Shoes that don’t fit well can lead to the development of corns, calluses, nail problems, and ulcers. These minor problems can become serious for those who have diabetes.
- Don’t walk barefoot. Although it may seem appealing, particularly for a walk on the beach or in the garden, it exposes you to cuts and injuries on the feet that can become infected.
- Trim your toenails regularly.
Smoking can exacerbate blood circulation problems and foot problems related to diabetes. If you are diabetic and you smoke, it is very important that you try to quit. Smoking can greatly aggravate foot problems caused by circulation issues and diabetes.
If you have diabetes, it is essential that you wear proper footwear to protect your feet. Stop by Foot Solutions UK today. We have a wide selection of footwear that is suitable for people who have diabetes and related foot issues, so stop in today to learn more.