More than 37 million women, men, and children in the United States have diabetes alone. That astounding figure accounts for diagnosed cases (about 28.7 million) and projected cases that haven’t been detected yet.
If you know you have diabetes, you’re in a better position than someone who hasn’t yet been diagnosed. Your knowledge equips you to start making changes that will positively impact your diabetes or even reverse it.
Although diabetes is a disease in which your body no longer produces or can’t efficiently use insulin, it affects every aspect of your health. Too much glucose weakens and clogs blood vessels, robbing your organs of oxygen and nutrients.
One of the first places that feel the ravages of diabetic blood vessel and nerve damage is your feet. The veins in your feet must work harder than most because they’re pumping blood against gravity up your legs and trunk to your heart.
When those blood vessels take the double-whammy of diabetes-related degradation, they can’t do their job efficiently. The result is feet that lose sensation, are prone to injury, and may develop gangrene due to poor circulation. Diabetes is the number-one cause of non-trauma-related foot amputation.
Babak Kosari, DPM, FACFA, is an expert podiatrist and foot surgeon in northern Los Angeles with self-named practices. He and our team staff two offices: one in the Valencia area of Santa Clarita, the other in Northridge.
If you have diabetes, we and Dr. Kosari want your feet to stay healthy. Here’s what you need to do to keep your feet and to keep them safe.
The best thing you can do to keep your feet healthy is to stabilize your blood sugar. That may mean taking insulin if your doctor has prescribed it for Type 1 diabetes.
But whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, paying attention to your diet is essential for foot health and overall health. Cut out all forms of sugar, including fructose and simple carbohydrates. Focus instead on healthy greens, low-glycemic fruits, and high-quality fats and proteins.
The more you don’t feel like moving, the more you probably should. Exercise is like “food” for your body. You take in more oxygen when you exercise, circulating through your bloodstream to nourish every organ.
Move every day to keep your heart pumping, your blood circulating, and maintain lubricated joints. Walk, swim, cycle, or take a yoga class. If you haven’t exercised in a while, ask your doctor how to gradually add more and more activity into your life.
Make sure you keep your feet clean. That means washing between the toes and on the soles of your feet, too. Be sure to dry between the toes. Too much moisture on your feet could make you more susceptible to a fungal infection.
Treat yourself to regular pedicures if you can’t easily reach your feet to trim your toenails. Keeping your toenails short and cut straight across helps avoid ingrown toenails, which could become infected.
If you have diabetes, you should always wear shoes and socks to protect your feet. Skipping socks causes too much friction when your foot rubs against your shoe.
Also, be sure your shoes fit well, have a roomy toe box, and don’t have heels. Wear bathing shoes in public showers, pools, and at the beach.
Either alone or with help, examine every part of your foot each night. If you have diabetes, you could develop peripheral neuropathy, in which you lose feeling in your feet. That means you could seriously injure your foot and not even know it. Look for cuts, calluses, or even a blister.
After you’ve washed, dried, and checked your feet, moisturize them to keep the skin soft and pliable. Use shay butter or another thick emollient cream. Wear sleep socks to keep the moisture close to your skin and protect your feet if you get out of bed at night.
It may seem silly to advise you to wiggle your toes, but that simple gesture keeps the blood pumping. Also, stand up and walk throughout the day to improve circulation to your legs and feet.
A podiatrist is trained to see problems in your feet before you know you have them. Dr. Kosari is specially trained in diabetic foot care diagnosis and treatment.
Help your feet stay healthy for life by scheduling a diabetic foot care exam today. Phone our office nearest you or schedule an appointment online.