Diabetes is a chronic condition that can have devastating results if left uncontrolled. It can rob you of your vision, cause kidney disease and heart and vascular problems, impact your nerve endings, affect your gums, and cause numerous problems for your feet. Uncontrolled diabetes causes catastrophic health outcomes for men and women every day.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, affects the way in which your body processes the energy you obtain through food, and it results in an interruption in glucose breakdown. Glucose is a necessary byproduct of carbohydrates and sugars that fuels your cells.
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone found in your bloodstream, and your body uses it to break down glucose in an efficient way and fuel your cells. Diabetes disrupts this process: Either your body simply does not produce enough insulin to do the job, or your body cannot process the insulin as it should. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both.
Types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes — referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes — typically begins in childhood. It’s an autoimmune disorder in which your antibodies attack your pancreas, the production center of insulin. When it is attacked and damaged, that affects insulin production.
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form, affecting 26 million Americans. Often blamed on the obesity epidemic in the United States, Type 2 accounts for 95% of the cases of diabetes in this country. Although considered milder and easier to control than insulin-dependent diabetes, don’t be fooled into thinking your Type 2 diabetes isn’t just as deadly.
Gestational diabetes is related to pregnancy and can cause complications. When you give birth, gestational diabetes usually resolves itself; however, having gestational diabetes has been shown to predispose the mother to developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Common and serious foot problems diabetics face
Your feet can be affected in many ways if you are diabetic. Common foot issues such as corns, bunions, calluses, and blisters can easily become infected in someone with diabetes. Here is a look at several other foot problems diabetics face:
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD): Your peripheral arteries are more susceptible to disease if you have diabetes. With PAD, your blood vessels become constricted, which affects circulation. Poor circulation can cause damage to your feet, and, in serious cases, the loss of one or both feet due to gangrene. Take steps to control your PAD by keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check and not smoking.
- Peripheral neuropathy: Similarly, peripheral neuropathy is caused by poor circulation that damages the nerves in your feet. You may experience shooting pain or numbness and tingling. Left untreated, your neuropathy can cause you to overlook wounds in your feet as you lose feeling.
- Calluses: Although somewhat benign in most people without diabetes, calluses are a source of infection for diabetics. Wounds don’t heal in a timely fashion in diabetics, which leaves you easily open to infection. Should you develop the hard build-up of skin known as a callus, alert your doctor. Your physician can remove your calluses so you don’t risk further damage or infection.
- Ulcers: Ulcers are painful, open wounds that can develop in your feet when calluses, bunions, blisters, and corns are left untreated. These open sores are a primary source of infection in diabetics, so make sure to alert your doctor if you develop any of these.
Get help for the health of your feet
See your foot doctor immediately if you suspect any foot problems. Pain and numbness are signs of potential damage that could impact the rest of your life. Any tissue damage to your feet can also pose an extreme threat to your health.
The health of your feet should be of particular concern to you if you have diabetes. Regular checkups are essential to maintaining your foot health. Don’t let a foot problem become a disaster to you and your family.
The doctors at Family Foot & Ankle Clinic, LLC have experience in treating the foot issues unique to diabetics. If you live in the areas around Weston, Merrill, Marathon, Antigo, and Woodruff, Wisconsin, please contact Family Foot & Ankle Clinic today and protect the health of your feet.