By Debra Quarles, RD
South Central Human Resource Agency
Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. Then, poor circulation makes your foot less able to fight infection and heal. If you have nerve damage or loss of feeling in the feet, you may not notice a foot injury until the skin breaks down and becomes infected. Then high glucose levels make it hard to fight infection. Special foot care is needed if you have diabetes.
Prevent problems by inspecting your feet every day. Look for cuts and breaks in the skin, ingrown toenails, or any type of injury to the foot. Be aware if your foot changes color, shape, or feels different— it could be nail fungus infection, a fungus that lives under the nail that’s 3 times more likely to occur among people who have diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you spot something. Your health care provider should also examine your feet at every visit. Schedule a complete foot exam at least annually – more if you have foot problems.
Nerve damage can lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes. Ask your health care provider about prescription shoes that are covered by Medicare and other insurance plans. Most amputations are preventable with regular care and proper footwear. Here are 8 steps to better foot care.
(1)Check your feet every day for red spots, cuts , swelling, and blisters. Neuropathy, or loss of feeling in your feet, could mean you may not notice a foot injury at first.
(2)Wash and dry feet carefully every day. Pay special attention to drying between the toes.
(3)Use lotion on tops and bottoms of feet to keep skin soft and smooth. Do not use lotion between your toes.
(4)Trim toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
(5)Wear shoes and socks at all times. Do not walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check shoes for foreign objects before putting them on.
(6)Protect feet from hot and cold. Test bathwater with your hand. Never use heating pads, hot water bottles, or electric blankets as these can cause unintended burns.
(7)Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Don’t cross you legs for long periods of time.
(8)Do your feet a favor and stop smoking. Smoking affects the small blood vessels. This decreases blood flow to the feet and makes wounds heal more slowly than they normally would. Many people with diabetes who need amputations are smokers.
The bottom line: People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. For example, 15 per cent of patients with diabetes develop foot ulcers, and 6 per cent of these require hospitalization. Because ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications. It’s important to take precautions to guard your feet.
A good friend of mine shared this refreshing recipe for Crystal Lite Punch for the upcoming hot days. An 8-ounce glass has only 5 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate. In a 1 gallon jug, add 1 small individual serving size package of Lemonade Crystal Lite, 1 small individual serving size package of Classic Orange Sunrise Crystal Lite, 3 Tablespoons unsweetened instant tea with lemon, and 1 1/2 cups Stevia sugar substitute. Add water to make 1 gallon and shake thoroughly. Chill and enjoy.