Diabetes is the failure of the body to manufacture or properly use insulin. The long-term effects of diabetes can lead to damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet. This disease affects over 26 million people. Worse yet many people don’t even know they have it.
There is no cure for diabetes.. Proper diet, exercise, medical care, and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life. A podiatrist can play a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications.
What are the Symptoms
Diabetes warning signs include the following:
- Skin color changes
- Swelling of the foot or ankle
- Numbness in the feet or toes
- Pain in the legs
- Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
- Ingrown and fungal toenails
- Bleeding corns and calluses
- Dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel
When to visit a Podiatrist
This is a disease affecting many areas of the body, successful management requires a group effort. A podiatrist is an integral part of the treatment team and has great success in preventing amputations:
- More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated each year due to complications from diabetes.
- After an amputation, the chance of an additional amputation are as high as 50 percent.
- Including a podiatrist in your diabetes care can reduce the risk of lower limb amputation up to 85 percent and lowers the risk of hospitalization by 24 percent.
The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist,
If you have diabetes, follow these foot care tips:
- Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration.
- Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.
- Walking can keep weight down and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
- Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes.
- Don’t go barefoot. Don’t go without shoes, even in your own home wear house shoes or slippers. Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin and cause irreparable damage to the foot for people with diabetes.
- Have regular checkups by a podiatrist—at least yearly—is the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy.