How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?
People with diabetes are prone to foot problems caused by prolonged periods of high blood sugar. There are two main foot problems, each of which can have serious complications.
You can take several steps to help keep your feet in good shape, including wearing specialized footwear, having regular foot exams, and performing low-impact exercise.
Why does this complication occur in the first place? First, know that high blood sugar levels damage nerves. These damaged nerves may lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which you lose feeling in your feet or your hands.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy occurs in about 70 percent of people with diabetes, and its symptoms can result in harmful infections. If you can’t feel your feet, you won’t be able to notice cuts, sores, or pain. And if you can’t feel these irritations and wounds, they may lead to infection, and untreated infections can lead to gangrene, which in turn can require amputation.
Here are some tips that will help you stride on with strength and confidence while managing the disease.
Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care professional to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health care professional.
Ask your doctor about Medicare coverage for special shoes.
Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with a nail file.
Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don’t put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for five minutes, two or three times a day. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Don’t smoke.