Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the ability of the body to produce insulin which is an essential molecule needed to break down sugars, and turn sugar into energy. The cause of diabetes is unknown, but it is suspected that is a hereditary disease with certain lifestyle factors influencing the severity.
Categories of Diabetes
- Type 1 Diabetes is known as insulin-dependent diabetes and is seen most frequently in the younger population (children and adolescents) and is caused by the pancreas malfunctioning and not producing insulin. Insulin injections are essential part of medication and needed to live.
- Type 2 Diabetes is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes usually has an onset later in life and can be caused by lifestyle factors including diet choice, obesity. Oral medication or insulin injections may be prescribed, but sometimes type 2 diabetes is managed by diet and exercise.
What are the risk factors for developing Diabetes?
- Family history
- Hereditary factors
- Poor exercise/activity habits
- Being over the age of 40
The long term effects of high blood sugar levels can be detrimental to one’s health. Damage to eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, blood vessels can occur if not managed long term. Part of diabetes control includes regular blood tests by a GP to monitor blood sugar levels and manage appropriately. A ‘normal’ blood glucose reading from a GP should be between 4-7mmol/L.
So what is the impact of Diabetes on the Feet?
Diabetes can lead to significant complications in the feet such as diabetic feet ulcers and limb amputation. The risk for the development of such complications is increased in diabetic feet that have poor circulation and reduced sensation as is common in Diabetes.
Diabetic Feet & Podiatry
As mentioned, diabetes can affect different parts of the body and requires a team approach to care and management. A podiatrist is an important part of one’s management to help prevent complications of the feet and lower limb. The key to prevention of serious lower limb and feet complication include early recognition of the disease and regular feet health assessments. A diabetes foot assessment should be conducted every 6-12 months depending on the individual’s risk factors, and includes the following:
- Checking for pulses and assessing blood supply to the feet using doppler ultrasound
- Checking and providing treatment for skin for callus, corns, wounds or skin infections
- Checking sensation and balance quality
- Assessing footwear and providing recommendations to avoid pressure areas that may lead to diabetic feet ulcers
To book an appointment for your diabetic feet assessment with one of our Podiatrists or call (08) 8234 8666.
Tips for Self Care
Here are some helpful tips to self care your feet at home:
- Wash and dry feet thoroughly every day
- Check feet daily for unusual things like cuts and bruises
- Wear appropriate footwear with breathable socks and avoid being barefoot
- When purchasing new footwear ensure you are fitted by a specialist and get the correct length, width and depth to avoid blisters and pressure sores.
- Exercise at least 3-times a week
- Quit smoking and drink less (or no) alcohol
- Cut toenails straight across and don’t ‘dig’ into the corners of toenails
- See a podiatrist for regular assessment and routine nail and skin care to avoid mishaps
- Always keep a first aid kit at home with antiseptic and plasters
For more information and resources on Diabetes visit the Diabetes Australia website or consult your General Practitioner