Diabetes is one of the most stressful and serious chronic diseases a person can face. Its prevalence continues to grow throughout the the world. Today, tens of millions of people live with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes .
Type 2 Non-Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) is the most common form of diabetes.
Commonly diagnosed among adults over age 40, a sudden type 2 diabetes diagnosis can completely disrupt your life, leading you to change your priorities. From learning how to monitor blood sugar levels to counting carb intake, type 2 diabetes isn’t just a condition. It’s a lifestyle.
Living with diabetes means you’re at much greater risk of developing foot problems. It affects your circulation, which can mean blood can’t flow around your body properly, especially to your feet. Without a good blood supply, you may have problems with cuts and sores healing. You may also get cramps and pain in your legs or feet. These are just some of the signs of a serious foot problem. If you don’t get these problems treated, they could lead to foot ulcers, infections and, at worst, amputations.
Most foot problems can be prevented with good, regular foot care. So you need to know how to look after your feet at home. And make sure you get a quality foot check from a healthcare professional at least once a year.
Simple steps to healthy feet:
- Quit smoking – Most people know that smoking isn’t good for you. But when you have diabetes, smoking causes even more problems. Smoking makes it harder for blood circulation, which is when blood moves around your body, including to your feet. So this puts you at even more of a risk of amputation.
- Check your feet every day – Whether you’re about to put your socks on, or you’re taking them off before bed, have a good look. Any changes, and you should see a healthcare professional straight away. If you struggle to lift your feet up, then you might want to use a mirror to see the soles of your feet. If this is too hard, or if your eyesight is not as good as it was, try to get someone else to check your feet for you.
- Make sure your footwear fits – If your shoes or socks are too tight, too loose or rub, then don’t wear them. The right shoes and stockings, tights or socks will help keep your feet healthy. Shoes that don’t fit well, even those that feel comfortable, can cause all sorts of problems. As can things like old insoles, or socks with holes or thick seams.
- Watch out cutting your nails – Cutting your nails seems simple. But if you have diabetes, piercing the skin by mistake can lead to other injuries. And you might not even notice you’ve done it.
- When you cut your toenails:
– cut them often but not too short or down the side,
– trim them with nail clippers and then use an emery board to file any corners,
– clean them gently with a nail brush – don’t use the sharp points of scissors to clean as this isn’t safe.
- Don’t use blades or corn plasters – Your skin needs to stay healthy. Don’t use plasters to remove corns or blades on your corns or tough skin as they could damage your skin. Pumice stones can also help with tough skin, but use them with care. If you need help with corns or other skin problems, it’s always a good idea to visit your podiatrist.
- Manage your blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure – Keeping your blood sugar within target will help prevent damage to your feet and can stop things getting worse.
- Use moisturising cream every day – Using emollient cream will keep your skin healthy. It’s best to talk to your podiatrist about which emollient cream is right for you. Don’t put cream between your toes, as this can cause problems. The same for talcum powder as it gets clogged up between your toes, it could also cause excessive dryness.
- Get expert advice – A podiatrist should check your bare feet once a year. It’s a good chance to check anything you might have spotted with them yourself. But don’t wait a whole year to ask them. If you notice a problem get it seen as soon as you can.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay active – Get support from a dietitian so you know what to eat and how food affects you. Keep active. This will help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of serious foot complications.
Looking after yourself, being observant and being consistent will do wonders for your foot health.