Even though diabetes is a serious disease, with careful attention to diet and exercise, it can be well-managed. It’s only when you’ve had the disease for a long time or when levels of sugar in the blood remain uncontrolled that the long-term effects of diabetes take hold.
Specifically, diabetes can wreak havoc on the body’s nervous system. There are nerves everywhere in our body, so damaged nerves can mean trouble with sexual function, digestion, excessive perspiration, and numbness in the hands and feet.
Damaged nerves lead to damaged feet
Our expert podiatrists, Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts and Dr. Heidi M. Christie of Montgomery Foot Care Specialists, frequently treat patients whose diabetes has had a profound effect on the nerves in their feet. Damage to nerves, called diabetic neuropathy, can cause
- loss of feeling in the feet
- fungal infections
- dry or cracked skin
- wounds that are slow to heal
Any combination of these symptoms together is known as “diabetic foot.” When diabetic neuropathy and the diabetic foot aren’t properly cared for, infections can set in that are hard to treat and can lead to limb amputations.
At a minimum, follow these 3 steps to reduce your risk of neuropathy and amputation:
- Keep your blood sugar under control. Use your blood glucose meter as recommended by your doctor and make sure to keep all your blood work up to date.
- Protect your feet at all times. Always wear shoes and don’t engage in dangerous activities that could damage your feet. Ask us about special shoes for diabetics.
- Make an appointment with a podiatrist at least once a year – more often if you have trouble keeping your nails trimmed or can’t bend over well enough to examine your feet. If you do notice troublesome breaks in the skin, call us immediately to have them treated.