Get Happy Feet
Even as diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, the awareness about diabetes-related complications is poor. Diabetes complications are caused by a gradual damage to blood vessels and nerves which happens not over days or months, but over 10 to 15 years. One such condition is the diabetic foot.
Dr Kapil Gupta, senior consultant, Vascular Surgery at Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, gives the lowdown on this complication and how to avoid it.
What: Diabetic foot is a wound or ulcer on the foot that is slow to heal. About 2 to 6% of diabetics develop diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) every year and up to 25% of patients with diabetes will suffer from a foot ulcer during their lifetime. If neglected, these ulcers can lead to a foot infection spreading to deeper tissues involving the bones; gangrene (blackish discoloration) in the toes and foot that may finally require amputation of toes, foot and sometimes of the entire leg.
Why: DFUs are caused by a combination of factors. Diabetes leads to reduced sensation in the feet, which can stop you from 'feeling' or detecting an injury. Diabetes may also lead to blockage of blood vessels in the legs, leading to poor blood supplyâ€”and therefore, slow healing. Besides, dry, scaly skin in diabetics also escalates the risk of infections.
Manage your blood sugar. Take your meds, follow the advised diet and exercise regularly. This is key to beating diabetes-related complications.
Take care. Wear comfortable footwear. They should not bite. Also, they should protect your feet from injuries. Wipe them clean and dry and moisturise your feet well. Take precautions to stop your heels from cracking. If they are cracked, check with your doc on how to heal them.
Be vigilant. Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, calluses, redness, or sore toenails. Tell your doctor if you spot any of these. Remember, early diagnosis and proper management at specialised centres are crucial to treatment and recovery.