People with diabetes have to be extra vigilant when it comes to their feet. Wondering why, if you are not diabetic, or familiar with the problems a diabetic faces? Or all too familiar with diabetic foot problems (if you are suffering from them yourself!)? Unfortunately, people with diabetes have to constantly monitor their sugar intake, and blood sugar. If they have too much glucose (aka sugar) in their blood for a long time, it can cause serious bodily complications- including foot and skin problems. Besides skin and feet problems, high sugar levels can also make them prone to heart disease, eye damage, and many other problems!
So, how does diabetes affect the feet? Typically, uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves in the legs and feet. If this happens, the sufferer might not feel heat, cold or pain. This lack of feeling is a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This can be dangerous, as a person with this might have a cut or sore on their foot that they are not aware of. Due to the lack of feeling, this wound could get worse, get infected, and then get dangerously infected before the person even realizes it is there. A person with this condition is also more susceptible to cold- making them more prone to frostbite, in extreme circumstances. Same goes for heat- a person with diabetic neuropathy can burn their feet more easily-walking on a hot blacktop, hot sand, etc.- as their sense of pain is muted due to the nerve damage.
Diabetes can also affect the blood flow in a person's body. Poor blood flow in the arms and legs is called peripheral vascular disease. This disease is a circulation disorder that affects blood vessels that are far from the heart. If you have an infection in your foot, or anywhere else in your body, it makes you more susceptible to infection because of the poor blood flow. This can put you at risk for developing gangrene, which can lead to amputation, in severe cases! No one wants to have that happen!
These two afflictions- poor blood flow, and damaged nerves are only a couple of the problems a diabetic faces with their feet. Sad to say- the list is long, and there isn't time to get into it all in this article. But the important thing to take from this is that if you are diabetic, you have to take extra special care of your feet. And if you do discover anything other than the norm, you should see your podiatrist immediately. Dr. Joseph Stuto has two convenient Brooklyn locations to visit. Call Dr. Stuto if you have any foot or ankle problem- he can help!