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Examining Diabetic Foot Facts: Exactly How Serious Is the Condition, and How to Cope?

We often hear that diabetics need to “inspect their feet everyday”… but is it really necessary? How many people with diabetes really suffer from complications like the loss of sensation in their feet, diabetic foot ulcers, gangrene, and life-threatening infections? Aren’t amputations a thing of the past, given the advances in modern science? The makers of a UV shoe sanitizing device have compiled a few pertinent statistics that illustrate just what a serious issue diabetic foot health is.

foot inspection

Daily foot inspections should be part of a diabetic’s everyday life.
Image source: Flickr user Elvert Barnes

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Take Strides to Protect Your Feet: 3 Reasons Diabetics Should Invest in Shoe Orthoses

People with diabetes can achieve the best possible health by managing the various risks they face. Poor circulation is one complication caused by elevated blood sugars. This condition makes it more difficult for wounds to heal — particularly wounds in the lower extremities.

Another complication — nerve damage — makes it possible for slow-healing wounds to go undetected for long periods of time. During this time, bacteria, viruses, and fungi can easily infect the wound. We wash our clothes daily, but fail to follow any regular protocol for our footwear — and yet, this dark, damp, warm environment is where pathogens like to procreate most.

To avoid dangerous diabetic foot infections resulting in hospitalization, surgery, and/or amputation, we recommend preventing foot wounds with orthoses and preventing microbial buildup with a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer.

diabetic orthoses

There are several different types of orthoses to choose from.
Image Source: KLMLabs.com

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Got Cold Feet This Winter? It Could Be Your Diabetes!

The cold weather brought by winter can make life really unpleasant for a diabetic. Your skin is probably feeling really dry this time of year, and you may not be as physically active as you’d like to be, which can leave you feeling lousy in more ways than one. Peripheral neuropathy — which causes numbness and pain in the hands and feet — is the most talked-about complication of diabetes, but there are other complications that may cause your feet to feel extremely cold.

ice cold feet

Diabetics often suffer from ice-cold feet, making winters particularly uncomfortable.
Image Source: LungesAndLace.com

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What Causes Diabetic Nerve Damage?

If you’re a diabetic, you may find that you’re in denial about the severity of your condition. “Oh, I don’t have neuropathy,” you may think. It may surprise you to find out, but some people with nerve damage have no symptoms at all, although doctors may detect small amounts of protein appearing in a urine sample. The condition often sneaks up subtly over the course of several years. In cases of people with focal neuropathy, the sudden pain is impossible to ignore. The causes of diabetic nerve damage are just as varied as the symptoms.

diabetes feet

Diabetic nerve damage can cause serious problems in the feet.
Image Source: DiabetesInfo.org.au

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The Dysvascular Foot & How It Leads To Infection

A “dysvascular foot” refers to a foot that has a defective blood supply. This condition is most frequently found in diabetics, and is directly caused by chronic heightened blood sugar levels which cause nerve damage over time. This nerve damage is called “neuropathy.”

According to FW Wagner,  dysvascular patients make up 80% of the thousands of patients who undergo lower extremity amputations. He created a scale to help doctors figure out how to determine the severity of a patient’s foot infection. Hopefully you will keep a close eye on your diabetic foot hygiene, so you never have to worry about such trouble.

wagner scale

FW Wagner created a scale to help doctors determine the severity of a dysvascular diabetic foot. Image Source: PhysicalTherapy.com

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A Cautionary Tale: California Man's Mismanaged Diabetes Nearly Costs Him a Foot

Rick Maina’s nightmare began when he stepped on a thumb tack in the garage. The 53-year-old said he wasn’t too worried at first. He treated it with antiseptic and went on with his life for the next month. Then, on Labor Day weekend, he wore a pair of flip-flops to the beach and noticed that his previously injured foot began to swell up. “I maybe picked up some bacteria in the sand, and that caused it to become infected,” he said. At the time, he had no idea that his Type 2 diabetes had caused nerve damage in his feet. This true story shows how diabetic foot infections can quickly spiral into serious trouble.

diabetic foot infection

Wearing flip-flops to the beach can spell disaster for an uncontrolled diabetic with a small puncture wound.
Image Source: FineArtAmerica.com

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Obesity and Foot Care: How Does Being Overweight Affect My Feet?

Being overweight or obese is difficult enough — never mind all the foot problems that come along with it! A study published in the journal Arthritis Care Research found that 51% of those surveyed who said their foot health was only “fair” or “poor” were obese. Increasing body mass index is “strongly associated with foot pain and disability,” the authors concluded.  Not only that, but overweight and obese populations may find it difficult to reach their feet to care for them properly, which leads to a whole set of foot hygiene issues.

obesity feet

More than half of the people who are obese also suffer from foot problems. Image Source: AdvancedFootCareClinic.Blogspot.com

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What Causes A Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

Diabetic foot ulcers are more than just open wounds that take too long to heal. For many diabetics, they can be a death sentence. A slow-healing wound leaves the body open to infection, putting the patient at risk for developing gangrene that requires amputation. Following the horrific ordeal, 5-10% of amputees die during initial hospitalization, and another 50% die within the next five years. That being said, there are ways to limit your risk of developing a foot ulcer. For diabetics, prevention is the best cure! But first, we’ll discuss what causes diabetic foot ulcers.

diabetes facts

Image Source: ActForDiabetes.com

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Diabetes Foot Care: The Importance of Keeping Minor Injuries At Bay

“Diabetes is a chronic condition that can result in multiple complications if improperly managed,” says Dr. Bella Zimilevich MD. With type I diabetes, pancreatic cells are unable to produce insulin in order to regulate blood sugar levels. With type II diabetes, the body cannot use insulin properly. Some women get gestational diabetes while they are pregnant, but the condition goes away later. No matter which type of diabetes you have, you will be more likely to suffer diabetes foot complications than someone who does not have the condition.

diabetes foot care

Image Source: OakleafMedical.com

 

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10 Must-Read Foot Care Tips For Diabetics

Everyone needs to take care of their feet, and this is doubly true if you suffer from diabetes.  Diabetics have a lot to worry about in terms of daily insulin and other dietary maintenance, so it is easy to let foot health slip between the cracks.  If you or someone you know has diabetes, these are 10 must-read tips.

1. Examine your feet daily.

Decreased blood flow and high blood sugars lead diabetics to develop neuropathy — a lack of feeling — in the feet. You may not feel that blister, but it could be getting infected and causing real problems. That’s why it’s essential that you look for visual cues of trouble, rather than relying on your pain sensors.

diabetes feet

Image Source: HealthCentral.com

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