What is Diabetic Foot?
Diabetic foot is one of the most common and severe complications of diabetes, especially those who have poorly controlled sugar levels over an extended period.
The condition arises due to a combination of factors such as neuropathy (nerve damage) and peripheral arterial disease (reduced flow to the extremities).
Here’s how these factors contribute to the development of diabetic foot:
- Neuropathy: High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in the body, especially those in the hand and feet. This condition is known as Diabetic Neuropathy. Neuropathy can lead to a loss of sensation in the feet, making it difficult for individuals to detect injuries, infections or wounds.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: Diabetes can also cause narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels, which causes poor circulation to the extremities, thereby, impairing the body’s ability to deliver oxygen, and nutrients to the feet, making it difficult for wounds to heal properly.
When the 2 factors combine, it can result in the following complications associated with diabetic foot:
- Foot ulcers: Due to the reduced sensation people with diabetic feet may develop wounds or ulcers on their feet without noticing, which can become infected and difficult to heal due to the compromised blood flow.
- Infections: This is very common due to the presence of open wounds and weakened immunity, which is also a complication of diabetes.
- Gangrene: Untreated foot ulcers and infections can progress to gangrene, a condition where the body tissues die due to lack of blood flow and infection.
- Charcot foot: This is a condition where the bones in the foot weaken and collapse leading to significant deformities and instability.
Management of diabetic foot involves a multidisciplinary approach, including regular foot examinations by health care professionals, strict blood sugar control, foot care education, proper footwear, wound care, and in severe cases, surgical interventions to remove dead tissues or correct deformities.
Prevention is crucial in diabetic foot management.
Foot care in Diabetics should include:
- Inspecting their feet daily for any signs of injury, blisters, cuts, or infections.
- Keeping their feet clean and dry.
- Moisturizing their feet to prevent cracking.
- Wearing well-fitting and comfortable footwear.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Managing blood sugar levels through a balanced diet, exercise, and medication as their health care provider prescribes.
If you or someone you know has diabetes and is experiencing foot problems, seek prompt medical attention and encourage them to STEP AHEAD, GUARD THEIR FEET.
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