DIABETIC FOOT PROBLEM
Diabetes-related foot problems are common, and negatively impact patients' quality of life. Therefore, it is important that pharmacists and healthcare professionals are aware of symptoms and the relevant care pathways for these patients to ensure they receive the best care and education regarding how to manage their condition.
Diabetic Foot Problems
Over time, diabetes may cause neuropathy in the feet, which may result in a loss of feeling. The two main foot problems that affect people with diabetes are:
Over time, diabetes can cause nerve damage that makes it hard for people with diabetes to feel sensation in their extremities. The condition also makes it difficult for a person to feel an irritation on their foot or notice when their shoes are rubbing. This lack of sensation and awareness leads to an increase in the risk of cuts, sores, and blisters developing.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetes leads to changes in the blood vessels, including arteries. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block these vessels beyond the brain and heart. It tends to affect the blood vessels leading to and from the extremities, reducing blood flow to the hands and feet. Reduced blood flow can lead to pain, infection, and slow healing wounds. Severe infections may lead to amputation.
Symptoms of diabetic foot problems can include the following:
1. Loss of feeling
2. Numbness or tingling sensation
3. Blisters or other wounds without painful
4. Skin discoloration
5. Skin temperature changes
6. Red streaks
7. Wounds with or without drainage
8. Painful tingling
9. Taining on socks
10. Deformed foot appearance
If an infection is present in a foot or foot ulcer, a person may also experience some of the following:
3. Uncontrollable blood sugar
WHAT TO DO
Examining the feet daily and keeping them clean is recommended to prevent diabetic foot problems.
Preventing diabetic foot problems is essential for people who have diabetes. Keeping feet healthy is important, and a person should be vigilant about foot hygiene. They can take the following steps:
1. Check feet each day: Examine the feet daily, or ask someone to check for any changes or injuries.
2. Wash feet daily: Keeping feet clean helps to prevent infections.
3. Wear supportive shoes and socks: It is important to keep feet protected in socks and shoes at all times. A podiatrist may recommend shoes to help prevent deformities. Socks should not be too tight so as to restrict blood flow.
4. Promote blood flow to the feet: Putting feet up when sitting, wiggling toes periodically, and getting enough exercise helps promote healthy blood flow to the feet.
5. Trim nails carefully: Trim toenails straight across and keep them short. Rounded nails can cause ingrown toenails, which can lead to infection.
6. Care for corns and bunions: Treat corns and bunions carefully. Corns should never be shaved as this increases the risk of infection.
7. Protect feet from extreme temperatures: Exposure to hot and cold can damage diabetic feet.
8. Get feet checked regularly: Regular examinations by a doctor are key to preventing infections, amputations, and serious deformities.
9. Control blood sugar: Uncontrolled blood sugar raises the likelihood of podiatric complications from diabetes
10. Avoid smoking: Smoking adversely affects the blood flow to the tissues.