If you have diabetes, there are plenty of day-to-day extra health concerns you need to manage. Did you know that it's not high blood sugar, heart disease, or stroke that most often puts people with diabetes in the hospital? It's foot wounds.
Foot wounds are the most common diabetes-related cause for hospitalization. The main reason is diabetes can cause reduced sensitivity in your hands and feet. So while you may notice a cut on your hands right away, an abrasion on the bottom of your foot may go unnoticed until it becomes infected. Herein lies the problem, and the unfortunate result is amputation.
Preventing foot wounds is a matter of employing careful self-management techniques, starting with daily foot examinations.
Here's what you can do to help prevent foot wounds:
Seek help outside your home.
Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
Examine your feet daily. Check for sores, cuts, bruises, and toenail changes. Use a mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet if you need to. Call or see your health care provider if you have cuts or breaks in the skin, have an ingrown nail, or if your foot changes color, shape, or becomes less sensitive. Immediately see your health care provider if you detect a new lesion or if your foot becomes swollen, red, or painful.
Wash your feet daily. Use mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry your feet very carefully, especially between the toes. If the skin is dry, use a moisturizer—but not between the toes since excess moisture there can promote fungal infections.
Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot, even in your home. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them to make sure the lining is smooth, and there are no objects inside. If your doctor tells you that you’re at high risk for foot problems, he or she may recommend a specific shoe type. Wear soft, thick socks with no seams. Seams can rub and cause blisters.
Exercise. Walking improves circulation and can help control your weight. Be certain to wear properly fitted walking shoes.
Never try to remove corns, calluses, or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn or damage your skin. Sometimes this damage cannot be repaired.
Don’t smoke. Smoking can cause decreased blood flow to the feet and make wounds heal slowly. Many smokers with diabetes need amputations.
Finally, ask your doctor to check your feet every time you go for a visit. Consider visiting a podiatrist—a doctor who specializes in foot care. The potential for foot problems leading to major health issues is significant.
ECHN offers a highly regarded Diabetes Self-Management Program that can help you manage your diabetes day to day. ECHN’s program has been recognized for excellence by the American Diabetes Association repeatedly since 1996 and has been honored by the American Diabetes Association as one of its “most influential partners” in the fight against diabetes throughout Connecticut.
The program’s goal is to help individuals control their diabetes and improve their health through education, diet, exercise and/or medication. Patients are encouraged to attend classes when first diagnosed, and to return for support and follow-up periodically to help maintain long-term control.
Group classes are offered at Manchester Memorial Hospital at 9:30 a.m. or 5 p.m. Medicare and most commercial insurances cover the cost of the program, and a loved one is always welcome to attend at no extra charge. Call 860.647.6824
, Monday through Friday, to speak to a staff member about the services offered.
Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jones, Niya, MD
Last Annual Review Date: 4/14/2012
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