How Diabetes Affects Your Foot Health

How Diabetes Affects Your Foot Health

Nearly 38 million Americans have diabetes — more than 11% of the total population. While most of us know that diabetes is a disease that makes it hard to control your “blood sugar” (or glucose), what many don’t know is how diabetes can affect the rest of your body — especially your feet.

As a leading provider of diabetes treatment in Frederick and Clarksburg, Maryland, Primary Care Associates helps patients manage their diabetes symptoms, including symptoms that affect their feet. In this post, our team helps you understand what signs to look for and what steps you can take to prevent serious complications that could lead to deep infections or even amputation.

The link between diabetes and your feet

There are two primary types of diabetes. In type 1, your body doesn’t produce enough (or any) insulin, a hormone necessary for controlling glucose. In type 2, your body doesn’t produce or use insulin the way it’s supposed to. Both types can cause foot problems.

When your glucose levels are high, the extra “sugar” in your blood can damage your blood vessels, leading to circulation problems in your feet. As a result, your feet can’t heal as well after injuries, like cuts or blisters. When healing is delayed, your risk of foot infections rises dramatically.

High glucose levels also damage your nerves — a condition called diabetic neuropathy. When the nerves in your feet are damaged, it’s harder to tell when your feet are injured. That means you can wind up delaying care for cuts, blisters, corns, and other problems that can become infected. It also means you can cut your foot without even knowing it.

Finally, just like most of us, bacteria love sugar. Higher blood sugar levels make it easier for bacterial infections to spread by giving bacteria the extra sugar they need to grow and multiply.

Symptoms to look for

The most common signs of diabetic foot problems include:

If a sore or other injury becomes infected, it can quickly spread, eventually leading to amputation of a toe, foot, or lower leg.

Keeping your feet healthy

Now you know how diabetes can affect your feet. The next step is learning what you can do to prevent foot problems if you have diabetes. These tips can help.

Manage your diabetes

The better you control your glucose, the more you can reduce your risk of foot-related problems (collectively referred to as diabetic foot). Regular doctor visits are essential for managing diabetes as you get older and your needs change.

Keep your feet clean and dry

Wash your feet every day, taking special care to wash gently between your toes. Afterward, dry your feet carefully, including the spaces between your toes. While you’re at it, carefully examine your feet and toes for any sores, cuts, or other signs of damage so they can be treated right away.

Trim your nails — carefully

Most of us cut our fingernails following the curve of our fingertips, but with your toes, it’s different. Toenails should be trimmed straight across to reduce your risks of ingrown toenails, which can easily become infected.

Use moisturizer

Moisturizer helps keep the skin of your feet healthy and supple, so it’s less prone to cracking. Apply moisturizer every night before bed. Avoid putting moisturizer between your toes since excess rubbing might cause blisters. 

Don’t ignore symptoms

Finally, one of the best ways to prevent foot problems is to schedule a visit with our team at the first sign of any foot problem, including a sore, numbness, or pain in your feet. Early treatment is critical for relieving your symptoms and preventing problems from getting worse.

Learn ways to manage your diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease, and that means that to stay healthy, you need to have a diabetes management plan in place. Our team works closely with every patient to suggest lifestyle changes and treatments aimed at preventing diabetes complications and helping patients enjoy better health and a better quality of life.

To learn more about diabetes management and how we can help you stay healthy, book an appointment online or over the phone with Primary Care Associates today.

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