Diabetes foot infection is classified by the presence of inflammation or discharge, and is further classified by severity. If caught in time, the wound may be treated with antibiotics or debridement (surgical removal). If left untreated, patients may require amputation. Worse yet, about 50 percent of patients requiring a foot amputation die within five years! The good news is that there are ways to treat and prevent this death sentence. First, let’s understand the issue a little better…
Why Are Amputations Performed On Diabetics?
The National Health Services (of the UK) explain that a diabetes foot infection may result from:
- A diabetic foot ulcer gone gangrene (where amputation is needed to prevent further skin rot)
- Atherosclerosis (where blood to the feet gets blocked, causing gangrene in the tissues)
- Disease (where bone cancer or malignant skin cancer is present), or
- Infection (where flesh-eating bacteria is present).
The American Diabetes Association clarifies that diabetic patients are more likely to let these conditions worsen because of the very nature of their disease. “Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage, also called neuropathy, which results in loss of feeling in your feet. Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes may also cause problems,” they explain. Vigilance is necessary, as a person may not always feel an ulcer or notice the reduced blood flow to the feet.
Diabetes Foot Infection: What Causes It?
A study published in the May/June 2005 issue of J Diabetes Complications found that there were several common culprits for diabetic foot infections:
- Staphylococcus aureus (38.4% of cases)
- Proteus mirabilis (18%)
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (17.5%)
- Anaerobic gram-negative organisms (10.5%)
Some of these microbes can be very hard to avoid. For instance, S. aureus can be transmitted from humans, wild animals, and domesticated animals like cows. It can be transmitted through saliva, touching a contaminated object, or breathing in airborne particles. The Public Health Agency of Canada warns that S. aureus is the the leading cause of MRSA and staph infection world-wide and that “around 20% of individuals are persistent carriers of Staphylococcus aureus, about 60% are intermittent carriers.”
So, What Is A Diabetic Patient To Do?
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has released the following guidelines:
- Seek rapid help if you notice a red, inflamed wound on your foot.
- Ask your doctor about more than just antibiotic therapy (which is often inadequate.)
- Be prepared for debridement or minor surgical intervention, if necessary.
- If your foot is infected, ask about getting an x-ray done to see whether or not your bone is infected.
- Get a second opinion. Your team should be comprised of a podiatrist, infectious disease specialist, and surgeon.
These days, patients must be their own doctors. You can’t put your complete trust and faith in the people who oversee your care. In addition to micromanaging your clinical care, you will need to take charge at home as well.
Michael Stuart Bronze, MD from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, explains: “Pressure due to ill-fitting shoes or trauma further compromises the local blood supply at the microvascular level, predisposing the patient to infection….” He adds, “Because Pseudomonas organisms are water-borne, superficial ulcers may be contaminated by bacteria in wet socks or dressings.”
In other words: you’ll want to take care in selecting the right style and fit of shoe. You will also want to keep your feet dry and free from bacteria. There are many ways to do this, of course, but we’d like you to consider adding SteriShoe® to your daily regimen. Among other at-home treatments, using UVC light to clear the shoes of up to 99.9% of harmful bacteria can help in preventing a diabetes foot infection.