Our body is a factory that works non-stop, without a break and glucose is the main source of fuel to our body. When food is consumed it gets broken up into fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates when digested are converted into Glucose. This glucose mixes with the blood to give the cells energy.
But for the cells to convert the glucose in the blood to energy it needs the hormone – Insulin. Diabetes occurs when the hormone – Insulin is not produced in sufficient quantities or is defective. When people with Diabetes have excess of glucose in their blood for a long duration of time it tends to make them prone to serious complications, including foot problems.
How Diabetes Affects the Feet?
Diabetic Neuropathy – Diabetic neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the nerves due to high blood sugar levels.
Peripheral Vascular Disease – Peripheral vascular disease is a condition when blood vessels narrow down and restrict the flow of blood.
Common Foot Problems People With Diabetes Face
Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal Nail Infection is also known as tinea unguium. Our body hosts a number of bacteria’s and fungi, some of these are good while the the others at times multiply in numbers and start infecting our hair, skin and nail.
Fungal nail infection occurs when fungus attacks a toe nail, fingernail or the skin under the nail. When you are healthy fungal nail infection won’t affect your nail and when it does attack it is easily visible and painful.
Athlete’s foot is a type of Tinea Fungal infection, the fungus start thriving on the skin of your feet. The fungus affects the toes, heels, palms, and the fingers.
Athlete’s is particularly common among persons with diabetes. It is a contagious fungal infection caused by ring worm fungus.
The thickening of a layer of skin due to continuous pressure results in Calluses. Calluses are most evident on the heel and ball of the foot.
Calluses occur due to the accumulation of dead skin cells that hardens and thickens in a particular area. The main reason for Calluses is due to friction of the skin that thickens it.
Hammertoe is a condition When the middle joint of the toe gets affected. When a toe finger is bent for a long duration of time the muscles shorten and inturn makes the toe finger bend forward.
When a toe gets bent because of weakened muscles, the weakened muscles tend to make the tendons shorter. Inevitably when the tendons become shorter the toe curls under the feet.
When the foot is exposed to dirt and mud it tries to protect itself by hardening the skin. This protective action is called Foot Corn.
A foot corn is a spot where the skin thickens. The skin usually thickens to protect itself. These corns in the long duration are painful and must be removed.
Diabetes results in insufficient supply of blood to the feet, when the supply is minimal wounds or cuts require more time to heal. This condition is called Foot Ulcer.
Foot ulcer is a break in the skin or a sore which can become infected. Foot ulcers can result from minor scrapes or cuts that fail to heal.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you suffer from any of these symptoms like changes in skin colour, changes in skin temperature, swelling in the foot or ankle, pain in the legs, open sores on the feet that are slow to heal or are draining, ingrown toenails or toenails, infected with fungus, if you have corns or calluses, dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel, unusual and/or persistent foot odour.
Good diabetes management and regular foot care help prevent such foot diseases that are difficult to treat and may require amputation. In addition the following foot care tips will help you prevent most of the diseases.
Foot Care Tips
Avoid Going Barefoot: Don’t go barefoot even for a small walk. Wear sandals it helps you prevent unnecessary injuries to your feet.
Remember you are not a Doctor: In order to prevent injury to your feet do not try to remove calluses, warts or corns, you would be doing more bad than good. Visit a doctor.
Inspect Your Feed Frequently: Inspect your feet for blisters, cuts, sores, cracks, colour change in toe nails.
Wash Your Feet Regularly: Washing your foot once a day in warm water helps you keep your foot clean. Apply creams and moisturizing lotions to keep your skin soft.
Get Shoes that Fit: Tight shoes don’t just make you cranky; they make your feet cry out for help.
Quit Smoking: Smoking reduces blood circulation, which in turn will lead to more complications.
Sugar Levels: Keep you sugar under check, at least once in 3 months.
Diabetes is certainly a disease not to be ignored and the Foot not be forgotten as it takes the most in daily physical stress.