Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Diabetes Often Triggers Foot Problems

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are too high. Over time, this can damage your nerves and blood vessels.

Nerve damage from diabetes can cause you to lose feeling in your legs and feet. You may not feel a cut, a blister or a sore. This lack of feeling is caused by nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers and infections. Serious cases may even lead to amputation.

Poor blood flow. Damage to the blood vessels can also mean that your legs and feet do not get enough blood and oxygen. Poor blood flow makes it hard for a sore or infection to heal. This problem is called peripheral vascular disease, also called PVD. Smoking when you have diabetes makes blood flow problems much worse.

The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) suggests what you can do to take care of your feet:

Wash your feet in warm water every day. Make sure the water is not too hot by testing the temperature with your elbow. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.

Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems. Checking every day is even more important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet.

If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them. Do not put lotion between your toes.

File corns and calluses gently with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this after your bath or shower.

Cut your toenails once a week or when needed. Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.

Always wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet from injuries.

Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters. Do not wear socks or knee-high stockings that are too tight below your knee.

Wear shoes that fit well. Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are bigger. Break in shoes slowly. Wear them 1 to 2 hours each day for the first few weeks.

Before putting your shoes on, feel the insides to make sure they have no sharp edges or objects that might injure your feet.

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