Diabetes and Your Foot Health

Diabetes has become a major debilitating disease in America. 6 in every 100 adults in the United States suffer from the disease. This equates to 18.2 million Americans, ages 20 years or older. Diabetes doesn’t seem to be partial to anyone, as men and women appear to have the disease equally.

Explaining the Differences Between Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes

There are are two main classifications of diabetes: Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes was previously known as insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus, or juvenile-onset diabetes. This affects 5-10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. The body’s immune system destroys the cells that makes insulin. This is usually a genetic condition. Type II diabetes is previously known as non-insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes. This affects 90-95% of all diagnosed cases. Insulin is made in the body, but the body cannot properly use it. Over time, insulin production by the body is decreased. This is typically seen in patients with older age, obesity, a strong family history, physical inactivity, history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), race/ethnicity.

Diabetes Causes and Other Related Complications

Diabetes can also be caused by: surgery complication, medication, malnutrition, infections or other illnesses. This affect 1-5% of all diagnosed cases. Diabetics also have other systemic diseases. Diabetics are 2-4 times more likely to die from heart disease, diabetics are 2-4 times more likely to develop a stroke. (65% of all diabetic deaths were due to heart disease and stroke). 73% of all diabetics have high blood pressure. And diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease. In 2001, over 140,000 diabetics had kidney disease severe enough to require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

How Diabetes Affects the Foot & Blood Circulation

There are many complications and side effects which are noticed in the foot. This can include: Poor circulation, nerve disease, ulcers and infection, and amputation risk. Diabetics are much more likely to develop disease of the blood vessels impairing circulation which affects both the large and small vessels. Poor circulation means decreased nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the foot, which causes the tissues to die and lose the ability to perform their proper role.

Further Diseases and Conditions that Can Arise Without Treatment

Neuropathy is a disease of the nerves to the foot. 60-70% of all diabetics have a mild to severe form of diabetic neuropathy. High blood sugar affects the blood supply of the nerves causing neuropathy. Symptoms include: Numbness or coldness, burning, aching, cramping, tingling, muscle weakness. Ulceration can be the most tragic condition caused by diabetes. 5 of 100 diabetics will develop a foot ulcer, 6 of those requiring hospitalization. Most ulcers start off as a callous or blister. Diabetics are much more likely to develop infections of these ulcerations. Many different bacteria can infect a diabetic foot at the same time. Up to 25 of every 100 diabetics with a foot ulcer will require an amputation. After an amputation, the chance of a 2nd amputation within 3-5 years is as high as 50% After an amputation, 4-7 out of 10 people are likely to die within 5 years.

How to Avoid Diabetic Foot

You can avoid diabetic foot complications by: Inspecting your feet, apply lotion daily to help prevent cracking and dry skin, control your blood sugars and watch your diet.

For more information regarding diabetes and how it relates to foot health or to schedule your first consultation with Worthington Foot & Ankle, contact us today!

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