It is a well-publicised fact that diabetes is a difficult and serious condition to live with. According to Diabetes UK, the number of people suffering from diabetes in the UK rose by 60% in the decade leading up to 2015. This number has increased in subsequent years, with it being estimated that over five million people in the UK will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2025. Only 6 in 10 people in England and Wales receive the full line of treatments that are recommended, meaning many people are left to suffer, perhaps without even knowing the real risks their condition presents.
If you or someone you know has received a recent diabetes diagnosis, it’s important to ensure you get the right medical advice from the outset. Many complications experienced by diabetes sufferers could be avoided with early attention and diagnosis.
Here, we’ll outline how diabetes affects your foot health and how we can help you avoid serious complications.
The Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks the cells in your pancreas that create the hormone insulin. The subsequent lack of insulin production means your body is unable to control your blood glucose level, meaning your blood sugar levels get too high. According to NHS guides, type 1 diabetes is not linked to age or being overweight and can affect people of all ages and lifestyles.
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic condition that used to be called adult-onset diabetes. However, in recent years it’s been found in more children, due in part to an increase in childhood obesity. Type 2 diabetes is due to a resistance to insulin or a lack of insulin production, affecting the way your body metabolizes sugar. In many instances, this type is bought on through genetic and lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, a smoker, or physically inactive.
Both types have a negative affect on the body’s circulatory system and nervous system, meaning your extremities can be at risk of higher likelihood of injury and infection.
How Does Diabetes Affect Foot Health?
While initially after diagnosis you might be more concerned with managing your diabetes on a daily basis and taking extra care when exercising or planning healthy meals, the long term affects of living with diabetes can impact the health of your feet.
- Decreased nerve sensation in your feet, known as peripheral neuropathy, can make it more difficult to sense pain. If you cut your foot or have foot issues such as ingrown toenails, bunions, blisters, corns, callouses or verrucae, you may not notice straightaway, giving infection a better chance of taking hold.
- A high level of blood sugar impedes the body’s natural ability to fight infection on a molecular level – as found in a study conducted by doctors at the Case Western University in Ohio.
- Poor circulation negatively impacts how well your body is able to fight off infection and heal skin lesions or wounds, increasing the risk of infections becoming more severe.
- Lower limb amputations are 15 times more likely in sufferers of diabetes than in the non-diabetic population. Gangrene can form in un-healed wounds, and serious conditions such as ulceration and Charcot foot can make the foot too damaged to live with. Unfortunately, lower limb amputations in diabetes sufferers increased by almost 20% in the years 2014-2017, from 2010-2013.
How to Avoid Serious Foot Complaints
All medical authorities on diabetes recommend active foot health care regimes for sufferers. Whether you have an established problem or your feet appear to be in good health, regular monitoring is the best way to avoid any serious complications.
At Feet By Pody, we’re specialists in diabetic foot health care. Read our diabetic foot care tips and book in for a diabetic foot assessment. Together, we can make a plan to keep your feet in the best condition and quickly resolve any problems, before they worsen.
Our friendly London-based clinics are ready to help you keep active and healthy at any stage of life, so contact Feet By Pody today to book your next appointment.