People with diabetes get confused when they’re told to see a podiatrist. They would often ask, “how would a physician specializing in foot and ankle care help with my diabetes?” Well, the answer is simple. A podiatrist can help manage complications associated with diabetes. These include foot complications.
Diabetes, a health condition where the body’s levels of blood glucose and the hormone insulin are out of balance, can affect circulation, nerve sensation, and healing wounds and fighting infections. Diabetes affects blood supply which can result in slower healing. Some people with diabetes may also feel feet numb due to nerve damage and because of this numbness, one may not realize that he/she has minor cuts in the foot, and this can lead to foot ulcers. Nerve damage and poor circulation are always associated with foot ulcers.
Foot ulcerations almost always lead to foot amputations when not treated early and properly. Podiatrists are key in foot ulceration management by providing treatments such as wound debridement, dressing and pressure relief. Moreover, fungal toenails can lead to infections as well. These are the reasons why diabetic patients should see a podiatrist to have their feet checked for foot ulcer prevention or early detection of other foot complications. In fine, podiatry should be taken into account in diabetes management.
Here in Australia, roughly around 5% of people living here have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. And it is alarming that this number is still on an upward trend.
There are several risk factors attached to diabetes. These include a sedentary lifestyle, diet, genetics, among other things. Diabetes is also linked to a number of different diseases like cardiovascular ones. This occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas produces and it regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
What are the different types of diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes
This type of diabetes was once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. The cells in the pancreas that make insulin of people with this type of diabetes are destroyed, and the body is unable to make insulin. Having type 1 diabetes means that your body is unable to process glucose, due to the lack of insulin. Glucose from your food can’t make its way into the cells and this leaves too much glucose circulating in your blood. To treat this kind of diabetes, it is necessary to restore normal insulin levels by insulin replacement therapy.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type of diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes either resists the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. It is said that type 2 diabetes is usually due to genetics. Type 2 diabetes can be treated by lifestyle changes which include healthy eating, weight loss and, exercise and watching your blood sugar levels.
This is a condition in which your blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to build up in your blood. Your pancreas can usually send out enough insulin to handle it but if your body can’t make enough insulin, your blood sugar levels rise, and you get this type of diabetes. But it goes away after giving birth. Since gestational diabetes is quite similar to type 2 diabetes, it can also be treated through diet and exercise.
If you have been diagnosed with any of these types of diabetes, it is recommended to visit a podiatrist to have your feet checked. As previously mentioned, diabetes can affect circulation and nerve sensation and podiatrists are specifically trained to assess the nerve damage in your feet, identify your specific foot health risks, and help you come up with a treatment and prevention plan.
Poor Blood Circulation
In diabetes, the blood sugar levels of patients with this condition rise. Because of this increased amount of sugar in their blood, the glucose molecules can attach to their arteries’ walls and cause atherosclerosis, which narrows the artery walls, making the amount of blood flowing through them decrease. It is important to note the blood that is transported from the heart to the entire body is in the arteries. Since the feet are the farthest away from the heart, there is a tendency that the blood flow to them is reduced. Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden leading to decreased blood flow in the legs and feet. Poor blood circulation can make one’s foot less able to fight infection and the healing process slower.
Diabetes can affect the nerves and high blood sugar can cause diabetic neuropathy. This damages the nerves that send signals from your hands and feet. Most often, diabetic neuropathy damages nerves in your legs and feet. A myelin sheath is composed of fatty tissue that protects your nerve cells. The myelin sheath of diabetic patients absorbs more sugar than it should and becomes damaged. This makes them lose sensation in their feet. Because of these feet numbness, one may not realize that he/she has minor cuts in the foot, and this can lead to foot ulcers.
To avoid foot complications, it is highly recommended to visit a podiatrist to make sure that your feet and ankle are healthy. They can give proper assessment and can detect early signs of foot problems associated with diabetes.
If you are a diabetic and have not consulted a podiatrist, now is the time to book your appointment with one for a foot health check. Consider visiting Watsonia Podiatry as they have dedicated podiatrists to take care of your feet.
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