Unfortunately, many people know firsthand that high blood glucose levels can cause serious foot problems. But, understanding how to prevent problems from starting in the first place is key to keeping your feet free from infection, gangrene and other complications.
High blood glucose levels that remain out of control can affect the circulation of your blood to your feet and can also affect the nerves that allow you to feel your feet. Burning, tingling and numbness are sensations that many people with diabetes experience during the day or night. Sometimes, diabetes causes such severe numbness that the entire foot loses all feeling. For these people, a stepped-on tack could go undetected, leading to all sorts of complications.
Once the foot becomes infected and red streaks begin running up the leg, people begin to panic. A good foot specialist will use every possible treatment to help save that foot. Many times, treatment is successful. Other times, it is not.
Take time to prevent
What can you do to prevent such a terrible outcome? One helpful tool is a hand-held mirror than can be used to inspect the bottoms of your feet every night. Or, simply running the back of the hand across the bottom of the feet can help detect if something is wrong.
If you do find something wrong, call your health care provider immediately. He or she most likely will refer you to a foot specialist who can better assess the situation. Antibiotics and other treatments could be started, leading to much more positive outcomes.
Some steps to take
You already have the tools you need to enjoy healthy feet for the rest of your life. It is important to understand the challenges that diabetes presents every day. After all, in most cases, diabetes can be controlled.
First, learn the early warning signs of a foot problem. Your health care provider can help point you in the right direction. Then, follow these very simple preventive steps:
- As you examine your feet daily, pay close attention to the smallest detail. Call your health care provider if spots and sores don’t go away.
- Wash your feet every day. Dry between your toes to prevent infection.
- Never wear shoes or socks that are too tight.
- Never go barefoot.
- Always check the temperature of the bathwater before you put your feet in.
- Change your socks every day.
- Check the bottoms of your feet with a mirror or use the back of your hand.
- Don’t try to do any bathroom surgery. Always seek professional help.
- Check your blood glucose regularly.
Taking care of your feet is a big part of managing your diabetes. Unfortunately, too many people ignore foot problems when they are small and treatable, and wait until it’s too late for a simple solution. Don’t make that mistake. Be sure to speak with your health care provider to get the latest information on how to take care of your feet. Working with your diabetes management team, you’ll be able to ensure that your feet last a lifetime.