Foot complications can be a cause of diabetes and it is particularly important to have your feet checked by a Podiatrist regularly.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. The body can’t make insulin or is not effectively using the insulin it does make. Overtime high glucose levels can damage blood vessels and nerves, resulting in long term health complications including heart, kidney, eye and foot damage.
There are three types of diabetes:
High glucose levels are determined by a general practitioner and they may refer you to an endocrinologist, diabetes educator, optometrist, dietician or podiatrist.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
Diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test which checks your glycated haemoglobin (HbA1x), fasting blood glucose, non-fasting blood glucose and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Type 1 diabetes is usually confirmed with an extra blood test to check for autoantibodies. These autoantibodies stop the pancreas from making insulin as they act as a ‘defence’ protein.
Early diagnosis of diabetes and optimal self-management will reduce the risk of diabetes related complications.
Diabetes affects the feet by either damaging the blood vessels, resulting in slower healing or causing nerve damage which can reduce the feeling in your feet. The combination of this can mean that problems are not noticed and dealt with which may lead to serious complications such as amputation.
Foot problems are a common complication of diabetes with an estimated 4400 diabetes-related amputations occuring in Australia each year.
A sign of circulation issues is cramping in legs at night and whilst walking. This is caused by a hardening or narrowing of the arteries due to raised blood sugar levels or high blood fats. The same effect can be caused by smoking.
Burning, tingling, numbness and pain are all side effects of peripheral neuropathy. Pain can be often worse at night, and the feet are usually the first part of the body where damage occurs to the nerves. There are other causes of peripheral neuropathy such as alcoholism, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins and other metabolic problems.
Foot problems can be avoided if you take care of your feet and act quickly when you have a problem. Get your feet checked at least once a year by a doctor or podiatrist to detect problems early and help prevent complications.
Prevention is always better than management of foot related injuries. Here are some ways to improve your circulation to the feet which include:
Podiatrists are experts in looking after the foot and lower limb, especially when it comes to managing Diabetes. Podiatrists deal with the prevention, diagnosis and management of foot related issues. You don’t need a referral to seek advice or treatment from a Podiatrist.
When to see a Podiatrist or your doctor:
Remember foot problems can be avoided if you take care of your feet and act quickly.
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