Diabetes and Your Feet
25% of all diabetics have some kind of serious troubles or grave complications with their feet. Every year in the United States, 50,000 people have their feet amputated due to diabetes. In fact, 50% of non-traumatic amputations happen due to diabetes. 80% of all diabetic feet problems and diseases can be prevented if care and attention is taken to the feet. Sadly enough, despite these statistics, 75% of diabetics never have their feet examined.
There are several reasons why diabetics are at higher risk for various foot problems. Firstly, diabetics have poor blood circulation. It becomes very difficult for blood to circulate to the lower part of their legs, and especially the feet. Poor blood circulation reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients supplied to the feet. This makes the feet easily prone to infection, and also makes it difficult for the feet to heal once they are infected. Poor circulation can also lead to swelling and drying feet. (See Foot Care for more information). There is also a risk of developing PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease) - a progressive disease that involves the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. It especialy effects circulation in the legs.
Secondly, diabetics often suffer from neuropathy, which leads to the inability to feel pain, heat and cold. For example, testing the temperature of a hot bath with the feet often causes burns. Or, often diabteics experience frost bite without ever feeling pain! If there is a wound or a cut on the foot, it can easily remian unnoticed and therefore left untreated until it develops into a major crisis.
Also, blood capillaries in diabetics are easily broken. This is because high blood sugar levels causes "sticky" blood, making it difficult to flow through narrow capillaries. As a result, the capillaries easly burst and cause swelling in the foot.
Feet are engineered for self-regulating functions. For instance, if the feet are too hot, it will sweat to control the temperature. However, diabetics have poor self-regulating control in their feet. This can lead to both too much sweating and too little sweating in the feet. Too little sweating can lead to drying and breakage of skin. Too much sweating can lead to swelling of the foot and can increase bacterial and fungal growth.
People with Diabetes are at high risk from various health problems such as:
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- Heart Disease
- Eye Disease - Blindness, cataracts
- Neuropathy - Nerve Damage
- Kidney Problems
- Gum Disease
- Loss of teeth
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