ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There are over 34 million Americans dealing with diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar will cause nerve damage in their feet, and without care, ulcers could form, and never heal. More than 80 percent of amputations begin as foot ulcers, but with simple daily changes, this is preventable. Ivanhoe has the details.
For those with diabetes, the destruction of nerves in your feet may lead to a lifetime of damage.
“Because it doesn’t hurt, they keep walking on it, and they don’t get the feedback that they’ve got a problem,” explained Michael Pinzur, MD, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Loyola University Health Systems.
An ulcer is more likely to become infected if it’s present for more than 30 days, so check your feet daily for any of the following injuries. You may not even feel it!
“When I took my boot off, my sock was all full of blood. I got a little one-inch stone underneath my foot and I never felt it,” said Richard Hamiel Jr.
Wash in lukewarm water and avoid soaking so your skin doesn’t break down. Pat dry and use lotion to keep them soft, but don’t apply between the toes. It could cause a fungal infection, so use corn starch or talcum powder. When trimming, go straight across to prevent painful ingrown toenails. Use clean, dry socks made of cotton or wool that aren’t too tight or loose, as the elastic bands can restrict blood flow. And make sure you’re wearing shoes that fit properly and provide support for the heel, arch and ball of the foot. One study found that 63 percent of diabetics wear the wrong size. If any lesions arise, see a doctor right away. Waiting over six weeks to see a doctor can increase the likelihood of an amputation.
Also, be cautious of extreme temperatures. In the heat, avoid violent burns by putting sunscreen on your feet and wearing shoes outside and at the beach. In the cold, wear thick socks and shoes, and keep your feet away from heaters, heading pads, and open fires.
Contributors to this news report include: Addlyn Teague, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
DIABETIC FOOT: HOW TO PREVENT AMPUTATION
BACKGROUND: There are currently 34.2 million people in the United States who have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. Glucose (blood sugar) comes from the foods you eat, and insulin helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes, which means your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. About 88 million people aged 18 years or older in the United states have prediabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
AMPUTATION AND DIABETES: Diabetes complications can include nerve damage and poor blood circulation, which can make feet vulnerable to skin sores that can worsen quickly. With proper diabetes management and careful foot care, foot ulcers can be prevented. More than 80 percent of amputations begin with foot ulcers. A nonhealing ulcer that causes severe damage to tissues and bone may require surgical removal of a toe, foot or part of a leg. Some factors that lead to an increased risk of amputation are high blood sugar levels; smoking; nerve damage in the feet; calluses or corns; poor blood circulation to the extremities; a history of foot ulcers; vision impairment; and kidney disease. The best strategy for preventing complications is a healthy diet, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring and adherence to a prescribed medication regimen. It’s important to check your feet once a day for blisters, cuts, cracks, sores, redness, tenderness or swelling. Wash your feet in lukewarm water once a day and dry them gently, especially between the toes. Trim your nails straight across and carefully file sharp ends with an emery board. Wear socks made of fibers that pull sweat away from your skin, such as cotton and special acrylic fibers. And be sure to schedule regular foot checkups.
THE FIRST RESEARCH NETWORK FOR DIABETIC FOOT: Funded by the National Institutes of Health, six U.S. research institutions are launching the first-ever multicenter network to study diabetic foot ulcers. “This consortium will address a major research gap in finding ways to effectively treat diabetic foot ulcers and to prevent the risk of complicated infections and potential amputation,” said Dr. Teresa Jones, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases project scientist for the consortium. The first studies, led by the Indiana University School of Medicine, will focus on finding biological clues, called biomarkers, in people with diabetic foot ulcers that can guide treatment and predict how the ulcer will heal and the likelihood of an ulcer returning. A second study, led by the University of Miami, will test whether the presence of or a change in specific cellular proteins in tissue samples from an ulcer can predict the likelihood of healing in the next 12 weeks. Each clinical research site in the consortium will recruit up to 70 participants per study who are undergoing foot ulcer treatment or follow-up care.
* For More Information, Contact:
Michael Pinzur, MD
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