North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

June 17, 2009

Diabetics should take extra precautions when it comes to the foot

Health Watch By Robert Sikes

The North Jefferson News




Diabetes is a very manageable disease with proper drug therapy and lifestyle modifications.

Foot care should be an integral part of your care. As diabetes progresses, one can lose proper blood flow and feeling to the lower extremities if blood sugar is not sufficiently managed.

As blood sugar rises, blood flow to the extremities decreases and the loss of sensation to the feet may occur. This loss can lead to problems with wound healing, foot ulcers and infections.

Patients could step on a nail or tack and never realize that they have done so. Diabetic patients may also lose the ability to feel if a bath is too hot, which could lead to severe burns to the feet (have someone test the temperature for you or use your hand).

Foot care can be an easy task if taken seriously. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with diabetes have yearly foot exams performed by their doctor. The loss of feeling to the extremities is a condition called peripheral neuropathy. To test for this, the doctor may perform a monofilament test.

Along with annual exams, the patient should check their feet daily for cracks and sores. Many patients lose feeling in their feet and they may not notice or feel a cut, blister or sore on their feet. If left untreated/unnoticed, amputation of the foot or leg may be required.

Diabetes is the primary source of foot amputations according to the ADA. So what can be done to protect your feet?

First, always wear shoes. Summer is now here and we all want to walk around barefoot. The first thing is to NEVER walk barefoot. Shoes should always be worn, even at the beach.

It is also important to have shoes that fit properly. Special diabetic shoes should be fitted by a certified fitter of therapeutic shoes as they can provide a proper fitting shoe. Diabetic shoes can be found at your local pharmacy that employs a specialist. You may also want to ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information about diabetic shoes (sometimes insurance companies will cover the cost of shoes and inserts).

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