Diabetes is commonly perceived as a single illness, but it is actually a group of metabolic disorders that can cause many problems. It is either caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin (Type 1), or the body’s cells not responding properly to the insulin that is produced (Type 2). A third form, gestational diabetes, only occurs when a pregnant woman develops high blood sugar levels.
The most common type of diabetes is Type 2, which accounts for about 90% of the 415 million cases worldwide. Many people find the variety and widespread nature of diabetes-related symptoms to be surprising. Everything from respiratory and urinary issues, as well as blurred vision and gastric distress are all symptoms of diabetes. One of the more common symptoms associated with diabetes is the presence of foot problems.
Why the Issue?
For people with diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, can cause tenderness and interfere with the ability to feel pain and temperature—a dangerous combination. If left untreated and unchecked, these foot problems can result in ulcers or injuries that can become infected. If you have trouble feeling your feet, it’s often hard to notice an issue before it becomes a serious problem. Therefore, it is imperative that foot problems are caught early and addressed with a physician. If you experience any of the following issues and have already been diagnosed with diabetes, contact your doctor.
Athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections are a real problem for people with diabetes because of the complications that can result if they go untreated. Lack of foot sensitivity can mean that you don’t feel the warning signs (itching, cracking, etc.) until they are serious.
These areas of thickened skin build up around the heel and edges of the feet. They develop because of excess pressure on the foot and can be exacerbated by being overweight or obese. If allowed to build up or if you attempt to remove them with a sharp object, infection can occur.
An ulcer is an open sore, and if you’ve got one on your foot or the joints of your toes, it’s time to call a doctor. These can result from poor wound care, so let your doctor know if you’re having trouble reaching your feet to replace bandages. An untreated ulcer can lead to gangrene or an amputation, so don’t wait to tell your doctor if you have an ulceration, especially on your foot.
Blisters and Corns
If your socks and shoes don’t fit well, they can rub on your skin and create a painful blister or corn. Blisters are circular pockets of skin filled with serum or blood, and can result in an infection. Corns are raised areas of thickened skin. Prevent them both by wearing properly-fitting footwear.
These small, bumpy growths are caused by a common virus and can appear solo or in clusters. If you’ve got diabetes, do not attempt to remove these on your own. Consult with your doctor to schedule a removal that will prevent infection.
If you have diabetes, you can avoid complications by paying special attention to your feet. In addition to regulating your blood sugar through diet and exercise, you should carefully examine your feet and toenails each day. Be sure to wear properly fitted shoes and socks, and protect your feet by wearing slippers around your home. This is especially important if you already have inadequate blood flow to your feet.