Q: What is diabetes?
A: To understand diabetes, it helps to know a little bit about the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ located to the rear of the stomach. One of its essential functions is to produce insulin and get it out into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate the level of sugar in your blood. Insulin helps sugar – an important source of energy – enter into every cell in your body.
Q: How are insulin and diabetes related?
A: With diabetes Type 1, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin and the pancreas can’t make enough of it to keep blood glucose levels in check. Blood sugar levels can get too high.
Q: What happens when you don’t have insulin to regulate blood sugar?
A: Type 1 diabetics have to inject themselves with this essential hormone. Many Type 2 diabetics can control their disease through diet, exercise, and prescription medications. Others may find that these measures can’t keep up. Eventually, even the best prevention and care may not be enough to control high blood sugar.
Q: What does all this have to do with your feet?
A: Uncontrolled diabetes affects many systems in your body. The two that concern qualified podiatrists Heidi M. Christie, DPM and Chanda L. Day-Houts, DPM the most are your vascular system and your nervous system.
- High blood sugar can damage blood vessels (your vascular system) and cause them to become narrowed with plaque. Your heart pumps blood to your feet, but blood has a hard time getting there. So, when you cut your foot, for example, there’s a high risk that it won’t heal properly. Even a small cut can easily become a chronic foot ulcer. Foot ulcers can lead to gangrene and lower limb amputation.
- Diabetes can also damage the nerves in your feet, leaving your feet vulnerable to numbness, fatigue, and pain.
If you’re a diabetic living in Montgomery County, all of us at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists encourage you to treat your diabetic feet with care. See us at least once per year for a complete foot exam. At the first sign of foot pain, numbness, wound, or infection, call our Montgomery, Alabama podiatry office at (334) 396-3668 or make an appointment online.