Diabetic Foot: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention
A diabetic foot is a complicated symptom resulting from poor blood circulation or nerve damage commonly found in a diabetic patient with a high blood sugar level. This can become complicated if not properly managed through diet, exercise and insulin treatment.
So, without any further ado, let's discover its causes and other additional information so that you can prevent it at its early stage.
What are Some of the Causes of Diabetic Foot
It is important to understand the causes of a diabetic foot to recognise early signs of foot problems like foot ulcers and gangrene, which leads to amputation. The following diabetic foot causes are:
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
In the case of diabetic neuropathy, most patients lose the sense of pain. This is because high blood sugar levels damage sensory, automotive, and motor nerves. When your sensory nerve is damaged, your feet become insensitive to pain.
Thus, any sore or cut on the foot can remain unnoticed. This exposure may lead to infections and it cannot get healed due to the body's reduced ability to cure infections.
Additionally, it also causes muscle weakness and loss in reflexes, contributing to deformities in the foot like bunions, charcot foot, hammertoes. This further creates abnormal pressure on the ulcer.
Peripheral Artery Disease
In this case, diabetes narrows down the arteries, causing poor blood circulation in the feet and legs, known as peripheral artery disease. It makes a diabetic patient prone to foot ulcers, with a reduced healing capability of the body. Almost half of the patients with diabetic foot ulcers suffer from peripheral artery disease.
It is often challenging for doctors to treat PAD because the concerned patients lack rest pain even in acute tissue loss.
Thus, it is important to pay attention to your feet health to attain the diagnosis and treatment at the right time. Doing so will help you avoid amputation to cease the spread of infection.
Risk Factors Diabetic Foot Patients Must Be Aware of
People with high diabetes are prone to foot ulcers. Hence, after learning about the diabetic foot ulcer causes, don't forget to take care of the following factors which can further aggravate the infection:
- Irregular washing or improper drying of feet
- Improper fit of shoes
- Consuming alcohol
- Kidney or heart disease
- Extreme usage of tobacco
- Eye disease
- Not keeping with the feet hygiene like irregular cutting of toenails.
Now that you understand what causes diabetic foot ulcers and their associated risks, you should learn some prevention tricks.
Diabetic Foot Prevention: What You Must Know
The main methods of diabetic foot care are preventing the potential risk of foot ulcers, leading to symptoms like loss of pain, reduced healing of infections, corns, calluses, etc.
Although, proper foot care can prevent the above-mentioned symptoms. So, let's take a look at each of these:
Regular Checking of Feet
If you are a diabetic patient, make sure to check your feet regularly. Take a look at the following problems:
- Cut or sores
- Swelled blisters
- Athlete's foot
- Warm spots
- Ingrown toenails
- Corns and calluses
- The growth of flesh below your feet
Your doctor may recommend checking the temperature of the feet. Often, a warm spot on your feet is prone to develop sores. Hence, it is crucial to diagnose it at first. If you notice any sore blisters or cuts on your feet, don't forget to cover it with a bandage to avoid exposure to external elements to prevent it from aggravating.
Regular Washing of Your Feet
It is important to maintain foot hygiene if you are suffering from a diabetic foot. Soaking your feet in warm water and keeping it dry with prescribed powder is essential to maintain proper hygiene of your feet.
Wearing Shoes and Socks
Walking barefoot when suffering from a diabetic foot is dangerous. This is because you may not feel the pain if there is any underlying infection on your feet. Also, make sure to wear shoes with a proper fit to avoid blisters or sores.
Maintain Foot Hygiene
As mentioned above, maintaining foot hygiene is of utmost importance to prevent diabetic foot. Trimming your nails and removing calluses is also a part of foot hygiene. But it would help if you took precautions while performing the same. For instance, it is not advisable to cut calluses or corn. Additionally, while cutting your toenails, make sure you trim it straight across.
Blood Flow to Your Feet is Important
If you or one of your family members suffers from diabetic foot, you need to perform regular physical activity. This will keep the blood flowing to your feet. Also, experts advise bringing certain lifestyle changes for better results. For example, giving up smoking can help significantly, as regular smoking hinders the flow of blood to your feet.
Enforcing Dietary Changes to Manage Diabetic Foot
Proper nutrition and adequate physical activity can help you to manage blood sugar levels. Healthcare experts recommend the following diet changes to manage diabetes and avoid physical complications like a diabetic foot.
Experts say that it is important to include vegetables like peas, corn, etc., in your diet. In addition, you must consume plenty of fruits.
Consumption of non-fat dairy is permissible. Although, it is important to keep in mind the amount you are consuming.
Food and Drinks to Avoid
There are certain foods that you need to limit are as follows:
- High-saturated fat content foods
- Food with added sugars
- Foods with increased content of sodium
Lifestyle Changes to Follow to Control Diabetic Foot Symptoms
Coordinating with your doctor and drafting a lifestyle maintenance chart is imperative to avoid diabetes and consequent symptoms like diabetic feet. Following are some common changes that one can inculcate in his/her lifestyle:
- Regular exercising
- Stress management
- Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet
- Limited consumption of alcohol and no smoking
- Routine doctor checkups
The Connection between Mental Stress, Blood Pressure and Diabetic Foot?
Mental stress is common today due to busy schedules and work culture. Nevertheless, a diabetic patient must control stress, and consequently, blood sugar level to live a healthy life.
Stress often impacts each diabetic patient differently. Chronic mental stress increases blood pressure, damages blood vessels and causes blockage of blood supply. This may result in peripheral vascular diseases, causing diabetic foot.
When to Seek Professional Help for Diabetic Foot?
Routine doctor checkups are important to prevent diabetic foot. But if you notice any unusual growth or yellow toenails on your feet, consult a doctor immediately to ensure diagnosis and efficient treatment.
Proper management of lifestyle, diet changes, and knowing the reasons behind diabetic foot care causes can help maintain blood sugar. Also, make sure to maintain a routine visit to your doctor to check for any infection growth.