Diabetes can impact a lot more than your blood sugar levels. In addition to your organs and other body areas, the common chronic disease can affect your feet. In fact, some 2% of people with diabetes deal with a foot ulcer each year. And diabetes-related foot amputations are one serious complication worth avoiding.
Read on to learn more about diabetic foot problems, including smart ways to prevent them.
When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t regulate blood sugar, or glucose, normally. Over time, high levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your feet. That nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, can cause a range of symptoms in your feet, such as:
Making things more complicated, a lack of feeling in your feet can keep you from realizing if you have a blister, cut, or open sore (ulcer). Such wounds can become infected and poor blood flow from your damaged blood vessels can prevent healing.
In severe cases, the infection paired with poor circulation can cause gangrene. When this happens, tissue in your feet starts dying. Left untreated, diabetic foot ulcers and gangrene can lead to the need for amputation. Without amputation, the infection could spread and become life-threatening.
The good news about diabetes-related foot problems is that you can do a lot to prevent them. Some of those steps can enhance your overall health at the same time.
To protect your own feet while living with diabetes, consider these steps:
You can also support your foot health by engaging in exercises that increase blood flow to the area. Go for walks or bike rides, for example, and wiggle your toes throughout the day.