What is Diabetic Foot Care?
To understand diabetic foot care and why it is so crucial, it is important to address the many contributing factors that play into the overall condition of diabetes. It is also important to remember that our feet do a lot for us, but are not always at the top of our mind when we think about our health.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a national health care crisis. Obesity contributes significantly to the development of type 2 diabetes, but a sedentary life style is one of the causes of both obesity and diabetes. Diabetics have an inability to consistently and accurately breakdown sugars due to the pancreas' inability to produce Insulin. The human body has a specific range of blood sugar levels that it prefers. We can refer to this as the body's blood sugar "comfort zone." In its ideal functioning state the pancreas is able to produce hormones to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. The pancreas is able to produce enough hormones to account for high blood sugar spikes while at the same time having a gentle enough touch to produce less and less of the hormones that break down sugars (as the spike diminishes.) The pancreas helps to keep blood sugar levels within the body's comfort zone. When blood sugars cannot be kept within the body's preferred zone unusual and unfortunate things begin to happen.
What are the the complications of Diabetes?
To counter pancreatic inaccuracy or overall inability diabetics have to manually give themselves medications so that their bodies can break down sugars. Still this is not 100% foolproof nor is it 100% as effective as a fully functioning pancreas. Because of this diabetics develop a weakened immune system if their sugar is high for extended periods of time. Diabetes is also linked to problems with blood circulation and circulatory problems further compound the problems patients experience with diabetes. Less blood to the feet means that wounds cuts blisters nail problems and calluses are slower to heal which also helps to explain how the body becomes slightly immuno-compromised. Poor circulation to the feet means that the nerves in the feet will also suffer. High sugar blocking impulses to the brain also decrease nerve function. When these nerves are damaged it can result in a condition called neuropathy in their feet in other words a loss of "the gift of pain." This is precisely why 75% of people with diabetes with neuropathy were unaware that they had it. Those with diabetic neuropathy do not feel the pain in their feet from an open wound cut or blister; therefor infection has often set in before they realize they have a foot injury.
Why does foot health matter?
For all of these reasons combined diabetics are more likely to have infections. Pancreatic hormone troubles result in "sugary bodies" which allow for more bacteria to flourish. It is also important to note that due to the abundance of potential bacterial food and lack of immune system protection from the body there are often more than one strain of bacteria involved in any given diabetic foot infection. Couple this with the ever growing antibiotic resistance that bacteria are developing and it is clear to see the imperative need for proper foot care.
For risk preventative reasons it is highly recommended that those with diabetes do not treat their own nails and calluses due to the increased chance for self injury. Frequent visits to a Podiatrist are the single best way to have issues caught early. Prevention truly is the key. Complications of diabetes have a profound effect on quality of life not to mention the high health care costs associated with diabetic foot complications. Shoe gear evaluation should be performed by a Podiatrist.
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