Complications due to having diabetes isn’t a subject many of us want to talk about, but I do feel it’s important to talk about it because too many of us feel like it is impossible and “that would never happen to me.” However, unless we understand the causes and the preventive steps, we can take then it still is possible and may happen to anyone not trying to make their health a top priority.
Proper foot care is very important for every diabetic. It can mean the difference in living a full healthy life and being wheelchair bound. Having diabetes means there is damage to the small blood vessels every time our blood glucose levels are above 180 mg/dL. This causes the blood not to flow as well as it should in the veins and arteries to and from our extremities like the fingers and toes. If these areas of the body get wounded or infected, it can be really hard for a diabetic especially one that’s older to heal and bounce back quickly. If the infection gets too advanced medical surgery may need to be administered in order to save the foot later on down the road.
Prevention can start with something as easy to do as buying and wearing proper fitting shoes. Well-made tennis shoes that work for your feet are key to having good blood flow. Making sure the toes come up longer than your toes and your heel doesn’t slip and rub while walking in them. Places that can do foot mapping like New Balance stores are very good at finding what shoe works best for your particular arch to keep your feet from hurting. Also wearing diabetic socks and or compression hose are helpful to keep the blood from cording and prevent swelling. If you know that you are going to be on your feet for a long time or have them hanging down for long periods like on an airplane wearing compression hose may be beneficial to you. Also, checking your feet regularly for signs of infection or damage is vital to keeping infections at bay simply by checking them every night before bed. Clipping your toenails regularly and looking to see if you have any that might be ingrown to make sure those get clipped out if just beginning. If you touch your toe and it hurts or is very sensitive, then it is time to make an appointment with a podiatrist. Letting something like that go is very dangerous and could cause major infections.
If you happen to be walking around try to make sure you are not going barefoot even in the house because you could get a splinter, or a piece of glass stuck in your foot by doing so. Having diabetes, you may already have some nerve damage and could possibly not even feel getting something stuck in your foot. If you notice you have a splinter or glass in your foot don’t panic because you might lose your balance and stand on the hurt foot and drive whatever it is in deeper. If there are people around call for help and ask someone to help you get to a safe place to sit down to see if you can remove whatever may have gotten stuck in your foot. If you are alone try to sit down where you are at and if necessary crawl or scoot to the place where you keep some tweezers so you can get it out. If you don’t have tweezers, I highly recommend you getting at least two pairs, one to keep in your house and one to keep in your car if you are out.
Going to a salon to have a pedicure, please be very attentive to what they are doing to your feet. Lots of times they want to go in and cut the corners out of your nails to prevent ingrown toenails, but it ends up doing more damage than good because they can cut part of the skin out. Just inform the nail technician when you arrive that you are a diabetic and would like for them to cut your nails straight across no rounding except with a nail file. Also, some can be a bit aggressive with getting the dead skin off your feet just be careful and if it’s hurting let the nail tech know and they will stop. Be attentive and know your feet, getting a pedicure should never hurt and if it does just tell them to stop and if necessary, leave.
Making your feet a high priority will benefit your health in so many ways. Your feet carry you everywhere and deserve to be cared for properly. Make sure to pumice calluses and dead skin off when necessary and use lotion to condition your feet. Bathe them daily and always use clean dry socks when putting on new ones and never re-wear socks. Doing so may cause Athlete’s foot a foot fungus that is scaly and red that itches really badly. If scratched could spread to your toenails and hands. If you have Athlete’s foot get some Lotrimin cream from any drugstore (or spray) to help heal your foot and stop the itching.
If you have something going on with your feet and are not sure what it is, please make an appointment with either your general practitioner or a pediatrist. Your feet are nothing to fiddle around with, waiting to see a doctor may have devastating consequences. It’s better to be safe than sorry. No need to let and infection linger untreated, it may cost you more than you think.
By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 13.3 K members