Diabetic Foot: What it is and how does it happen?
A diabetic foot is a condition that occurs when you don’t care for your feet in diabetes. This can lead to serious infections and even amputation. Diabetes causes foot problems because your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin helps your cells use sugar from food. If you don’t have enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can get too high. High blood sugar damages nerves and blood vessels in your feet. This damage may lead to nerve pain, numbness, tingling, and other symptoms. A diabetic foot is the result of nerve damage that happens because of diabetes.
Diabetes can cause many problems, including foot ulcers, infections, amputations, and even death. Diabetics are at high risk for developing these complications due to their inability to regulate blood sugar levels. Most people who have diabetes do not know they have it until they develop symptoms like blurred vision, frequent urination, fatigue, weight loss, and increased thirst. If left untreated, diabetic foot ulcers can become infected and lead to amputation.
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Common risk factors for diabetic foot amputations include peripheral neuropathy, structural deformities in the feet, ulcers, infections, and peripheral vascular diseases. Diagnosis for the diabetic foot, which is warm and swollen, is often delayed for weeks to months, or missed altogether, leading to serious deformity, function loss, ulceration, infection, and lower-extremity amputation.
What are various Diabetic Foot Problems:
- Diabetic neuropathy occurs when nerves are damaged by high blood sugar. Nerves carry messages between your brain and muscles. When they’re damaged, you may feel pain, burning, tingling, or weakness in your legs. You may also notice changes in how your skin feels.
- Diabetic peripheral vascular disease (DPVD) happens when arteries become narrowed due to poor circulation. As a result, blood flow slows down and oxygen-rich blood cannot reach your limbs. Your toes and fingers may turn blue or purple. They may swell, especially if you’ve had a cold.
- Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the retina of your eyes. Damage to the retina makes it hard for light to enter the eye. This leads to vision loss.
- Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that often results from long-term high blood sugar. Kidneys filter waste products from your blood. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the filtering system. This can lead to chronic kidney failure.
How to Diagnose Diabetic Foot?
- Inspect your feet daily.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly.
- If you have any cuts, sores, blisters, redness, swelling, pain, or other symptoms that are not improving after 2-4 days, then you should go to the doctor immediately.
What are the symptoms of a Diabetic Foot?
- Painful Blisters
- The color of your skin changes
- Variations in skin temperature
- Inflammation of the feet or ankles
- A feeling of pain in the legs
- The feet have open sores that are slow to heal or are draining
- Fungal infections or ingrown toenails
- Skin conditions such as corns or calluses
- Skin cracks, especially around the heels
- A persistent or unusual foot odor
Various ways to protect your feet in Diabetes:
Diabetic Foot Care includes regular checkups, proper care, and treatment of any wounds or cuts on your feet.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable. You need to wear shoes that fit your foot properly. If you don’t, you could develop sores on your feet.
- Keep your feet clean. Cleaning them regularly helps prevent infections.
- Don’t walk barefoot. This can cause blisters and other problems.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting socks. They can restrict blood flow to your feet.
- Check your feet daily. Look for any changes in color, odor, or swelling.
- Use lotion or ointment to treat cuts and scrapes.
Types of Diabetic foot Treatment
There are two types of diabetic foot treatment: conservative and surgical. Conservative treatments include offloading of the foot, wound care, and regular monitoring of the patient’s foot. Offloading refers to keeping the foot dry and clean. Wound care includes cleaning the wounds daily, applying antiseptic ointments, and changing dressings. Regular monitoring involves checking the patient’s blood glucose level and inspecting their feet regularly.
Surgical procedures may involve amputations or debridement. Amputations are performed when the infection has spread to other parts of the body. Debridement is used to remove dead tissue from the infected area. If the infection does not respond to medical treatment, surgery may be necessary. In this case, the doctor removes the infected tissue and cleans the wound.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer: Diabetic ulcers occur when the lining of your digestive tract becomes inflamed and breaks down. This allows bacteria to infect the area. Bacteria release toxins that irritate your stomach and intestines. Ulcers can develop inside the mouth, throat, esophagus, or anus. It is possible for anyone with diabetes to develop a foot ulcer. Patients with diabetes-related kidney, eye, and heart disease, as well as those who use insulin, are at a greater risk of developing a foot ulcer. As well as being overweight, using alcohol and tobacco contributes to the development of foot ulcers.
What are the various treatments for Diabetic Foot Ulcer?
Wound care: Wounds are injuries to the skin that occur from external forces like cuts, burns, scrapes, abrasions, punctures, and lacerations. Wounds may be superficial or deep. To prevent infections, clean the wound thoroughly using soap and water. Keep the area dry and covered until healed. Do not apply ointments, creams, bandages, or other products that contain alcohol or petroleum jelly. Avoid applying anything directly to the wound that might irritate the skin.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a type of medical treatment that involves breathing 100% pure oxygen at pressures greater than 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA). This can be done in a chamber or through a mask. HBOT has been used successfully to treat many different conditions including skin grafts, diabetic ulcers, radiation injuries, wounds, infections, and cancer. The benefits of HBOT are due to its ability to increase blood flow, promote healing, and reduce inflammation.
Orthotics and Braces: Orthotics are custom-made devices that fit over your shoes or boots to correct foot problems like flat feet, high arches, and other issues. They can help prevent injuries from occurring while walking or running. Braces on the other hand treat many different types of joint pain. They are usually worn around the elbow, wrist, knee, ankle, and shoulder joints. Some people wear braces full-time, while others only need them when they feel pain.
Antibiotics: The use of antibiotics may be necessary if a patient has an infection that cannot be treated with other methods. Your doctor may prescribe some antibiotics to heal the foot. In the event of an infection spreading to surrounding tissues or bones, your doctor may recommend antibiotics given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. It helps the body fight infection more effectively by delivering medication into the bloodstream.
The Final Takeaway,
- To prevent diabetic foot complications, diabetics should regularly check their feet for sores, cuts, blisters, and other wounds. They should also seek medical attention if any of these conditions occur.
- A person’s diet plays a large role in controlling diabetes. People who eat a lot of carbohydrates tend to gain weight, while those who consume lots of protein lose weight.
- Exercise is also beneficial to diabetics. Regular exercise helps them maintain healthy body weights and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.