Don't let diabetes defeat your feet!
10/4/2018 by Richard Mokua, APRN, CNP, MS
Diabetes loves to hate your feet. That's because long-term increases in blood-sugar levels decreases the circulation of blood to your feet and damages blood vessels and nerves, which reduces feeling in your feet.
Foot-related complications are the most common problems that affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients. They include calluses; athlete's foot (fungus infection); foot deformities, such as bunions; loss or change of protective sensation in your feet; and foot ulcers due to decreased circulation. These problems may not only be life altering, but also life threatening if not addressed quickly and completely.
But you can prevent diabetic foot problems through frequent screening and evaluation. Playing an active role in your foot care is critical to making sure treatment is effective.
Here's what you can do to keep diabetes from defeating your feet:
- Ensure your blood sugar is always kept within normal ranges. Sticking to your proper diet and making you stay physically active will help you manage your blood sugar.
- Have your A1c checked every six months. Work with your primary care provider to make sure this is part of your regular screenings.
- Request a comprehensive foot exam at least once a year to rule out diabetic foot complications.
- Stop smoking. Smoking affects blood circulation, especially to your feet. Ask your provider to refer you to a smoking cessation program.
- Choose your footwear carefully. They should be snug, but not tight, to avoid injuring your feet. Examine your feet and wash them daily. Use warm water, mild soap and dry thoroughly.
- Moisturize with cream after drying.
- Carefully trim your toenails. Clip them along the shape of the toe, then file to remove any sharp edges.
Be sure to notify your primary care provider if you experience any unusual changes, including numbness and tingling, burning sensation, swelling, redness, breakdown, excessive dryness or pain, or physical injuries, such as a scrape, cut or "stubbed" toe.
Protecting and caring for your feet will enhance your overall health and well-being, too!
Richard Mokua, APRN, CNP, MS, is a Certified Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner currently practicing in the podiatry section of orthopedic surgery at the Integrated Community Specialties (ICS) clinic in the Baldwin Building. He holds MS degrees in both nursing and nutrition science and is a member of Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Richard is also a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps.