People with diabetes are at risk for foot injuries that can go unnoticed and lead to a very serious infection. These are the recommendations of specialists to prevent and detect these injuries in time and thus avoid their consequences.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that appears “when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not use the insulin it produces effectively”, details the World Health Organization (WHO). Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating glucose (sugar) levels in the blood.
In fact, we could say that insulin “is the key that opens the doors of the cells so that glucose can pass into the cell and be burned to produce energy”, explains Juan Madrid Conesa, a doctor specializing in endocrinology.
“Diabetes mellitus is characterized by the presence of high levels of glucose in the blood. This sustained elevation of glucose can lead to vascular problems in different areas such as the heart, brain or legs. It can also cause problems in the sensitivity of distal areas such as the feet, “says Pedro José Pinés, member of the Diabetes Working Group of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN).
LOSS OF SENSITIVITY.
“The loss of sensation in the feet makes people with diabetes have a higher risk of being able to present injuries, initially unnoticed. In addition, the poor blood supply makes the healing of these wounds more complicated, which is why, in extreme cases, there may be a need for amputation to avoid the spread of a serious infection ”, he points out.
Thus, the endocrinologist emphasizes that the first advice for people with diabetes is to try to maintain as good a glycemic control as possible from the moment of diagnosis, “since we know that those first years after diagnosis are key to reducing risk complications ”.
“Another important factor that increases the risk of diabetic foot is smoking, so we must advise and advise our patients with diabetes to avoid smoking”, adds the specialist.
“Thirdly, all patients with diabetes must receive adequate advice on foot care from the moment of diagnosis and the examination of the feet must be part of the routine review by health personnel,” he continues.
“For their part, patients should examine their feet every day and ask someone else for help if they cannot do it themselves. The objective is to detect any possible cut, sore, blister, red spot or swelling and to contact the health personnel responsible for their care, as soon as they detect any of these alterations in order to start the appropriate treatment as soon as possible ”, he points out.
Dr. Pinés points out that people with diabetes should “wash their feet every day with lukewarm water (neither too cold nor too hot), dry them very well, and make sure to dry between the toes as well. They have to keep the skin soft and hydrated using, if necessary, a suitable cream ”.
In addition, the doctor advises that a diabetic patient should never try to treat his feet with callicides or blades on his own. “If you need it, you have to go to a professional,” he highlights.
Instead, cutting your toenails is something you can do at home, but with great care. “You must cut them in a straight line and then file the edges of the nails with a file,” says the endocrinologist. The best time to do this is after a bath or shower.
Footwear is also a very important element in the prevention of diabetic foot. Therefore, when putting on shoes, it is necessary to check that there is nothing inside the shoes. You also have to make sure the socks fit your feet without wrinkles, folds or holes.
“We advise people with diabetes to wear comfortable shoes and socks at all times. They should never walk barefoot, as that could increase the risk of injury. It is also important to protect the feet from the cold and heat through the use of suitable socks at each time of the year ”, explains Dr. Pinés.
From the SEEN, they remember that diabetes is a great enemy of the feet. This disease causes a slow loss of sensitivity in this part of the body, so that it is possible to hurt yourself and not notice it.
As a consequence of this wound, an infection can occur. If it's severe, it may lead to loss of the foot. To prevent this from happening, it is essential to take good care of your feet.