Diabetes & Foot Care
There are more than 20 million Americans with diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is commonly referred to as "juvenile diabetes." It is a chronic, but not necessarily fatal, disease. Type 1 diabetes is when a misfiring autoimmune response within the body results in the destruction of insulin-creating pancreatic cells. Type 1 diabetes can be treated with insulin, exercise and a diabetic diet.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes. Nearly 95 percent of all diabetics in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, which is sometimes called slow-onset diabetes and appears over the course of several years. With Type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but cells do not respond to it correctly.
Treatment for Type 2 diabetes typically includes a change in diet, exercise habits and weight loss. Oral medications and insulin medications are also possible treatments. Sedentary, obese and elderly individuals are disproportionately affected by Type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, excessive urination, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, irritability, nausea and sweet or fruity smelling breath. There is currently no cure for diabetes.
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Diabetics are more likely to have foot problems than non-diabetics and, because diabetes can cause nerve damage, they may not notice foot injuries until severe damage or infection develops. As a result, foot care is a very important part of a diabetic's daily routine. A good foot care routine should include:
- Washing your feet daily, drying between toes and using moisturizer (but not between toes). Power use should be avoided.
- Making sure shoes fit properly and have support to protect your toes.
- Wearing absorbent socks and changing them as needed
- Being active, and informing your physician of your activity
- Regularly checking the skin of the feet
- Avoiding heating pads and soaking your feet
- Seeking medical help at any sign of a blister or change in appearance of your feet
- Seeking and keeping follow-up appointments related to health conditions
It is also prudent to avoid going barefoot, wearing socks with holes in them or having anyone other than a physician shave calluses.