If you've recently received the sobering diagnosis of Type II diabetes, you may be anxiously seeking out information on the internet and from friends and loved ones to give yourself a better idea of what to expect -- and how you can best preserve your health going forward. Although diabetes is a fairly common ailment, affecting around 1 in 10 Americans, if left untreated or not properly treated, it could have a number of negative health consequences that could impact your mobility or even shorten your lifespan. Read on to learn more about taking care of yourself (and your feet) after a diabetes diagnosis.
Why are foot problems common among diabetics?
Extended periods of high blood sugar, or frequent vacillating between high and low blood sugar, can harm your blood vessels, especially the tiny capillaries that carry blood from your veins to the cells on the surface of your skin. If diabetes is left untreated (or poorly treated) for a period of time, these capillaries can be harmed beyond repair, affecting their ability to carry blood to your extremities. This capillary damage can most often affect extremities, like hands and feet, but can also lead to cell death in other parts of the body.
Because of this poor circulation, the body's ability to heal wounds in these affected areas is also compromised. And because feet can be much more prone to minor injuries (like ingrown toenails, blisters from too-tight shoes, or even a puncture wound from stepping on a thumb tack), this slow healing can often lead to foot-related complications like ulcerated sores or bacterial infections.
As a result, it's crucial to keep an eye on your feet after a diagnosis of diabetes. Stepping in to prevent a sore from ulcerating or becoming infected can be the difference between an event-free recovery and a hospitalization or even amputation.
What can you do to maintain the health of your feet after a diabetes diagnosis?
The most important step in keeping your feet healthy is to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. The first few weeks (or even months) after a diabetes diagnosis can be a time of trial and error when it comes to managing your blood sugar and insulin consumption, but avoiding extended periods of high blood sugar can go a long way toward keeping your capillaries healthy.
You'll also want to inspect your feet closely on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for any blisters, scrapes, or small wounds, and cover them with a bandage and antibiotic ointment to promote healing. You may also want to invest in diabetic socks or compression socks designed to improve circulation in these areas. For more information, contact a podiatrist at a clinic like Oregon Foot Clinic.