Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Type 2 diabetes does not affect your overall quality of life if the mechanism that drives it – high blood sugar levels – is kept at bay. Unstable blood sugar levels are the result of poor insulin production. If blood sugar levels are not stabilised, it can cause untold damage on the body, which is often initially concentrated in the feet.
That’s because high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage in the extremities.
It is vital to respond to the signs of nerve damage in your feet, not least because these problems can lead to further complications.
There is one telltale sign that can show up on your feet that can prove life-threatening if left untreated.
“Nerve damage, along with poor blood flow – another diabetes complication – puts you at risk for developing a foot ulcer (a sore or wound) that could get infected and not heal well,” explains the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC continues: “If an infection doesn’t get better with treatment, your toe, foot, or part of your leg may need to be amputated (removed by surgery) to prevent the infection from spreading and to save your life.”
Considering the risks, it’s vital to know what to look for and take appropriate steps to respond.
“Foot ulcers can occur in anyone, and refer to a patch of broken down skin usually on the lower leg or feet,” explains Diabetes.co.uk.
“When blood sugar levels are high or fluctuate regularly, skin that would normally heal may not properly repair itself because of nerve damage.”
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According to the health body, people with diabetes who are concerned that they may have a foot ulcer should speak to a doctor or podiatrist at once.
These professionals should dress and protect the ulcer to avoid infection and help the skin heal.
How to prevent foot ulcers
Avoiding diabetes foot ulcers is a matter of taking good care of the feet.
According to the NHS, you should have your feet checked as part of your annual diabetes review.
You may be eligible for an NHS podiatrist if you have diabetes and symptoms affecting your feet such as numbness.
“Ask your GP for a referral or find a local podiatrist,” advises the NHS.
Other foot tips include:
- Keep your feet clean and free from infection
- Wear shoes that fit well and don’t squeeze or rub. Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns and calluses, ulcers and nail problems
- Never walk barefoot, especially in the garden or on the beach on holidays, to avoid cuts and try to avoid sitting with your legs crossed so you don’t constrict your blood circulation.
- Cut or file your toenails regularly
- Get corns or hard skin treated by a podiatrist.
How to lower blood sugar levels
In the long-term, it’s important to keep blood sugar levels in check to ward off the threat of complications.
One of the most important interventions you can take is to watch your carbohydrate intake.
“Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats,” warns the CDC.
You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes.
As the CDC explains, the amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors.
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