How Often do I Need to get Diabetic Foot Checks?
Many diabetics experience foot problems due to the complications associated with diabetes. Most medical professionals agree that it is extremely important to take good care of the feet and do home diabetic foot checks on a daily basis. In addition to this daily maintenance, patients should have a doctor examine the feet closely during every appointment. It is also very important to see a doctor if any problems are noticed during the daily home diabetic foot checks.
Diabetes can have terrible effects on the feet, which, if severe enough, may require extensive surgery or amputation. The reason it is so important to do daily diabetic foot checks is because diabetes impairs the ability of the feet to heal and fight infection. A mild blister from wearing new shoes would heal with little problem on a healthy person’s foot, but may become badly infected and spread to the bones of the foot, possibly requiring amputation, if not properly treated. Diabetes can also cause weakening of the bones and joints, leading to a collapse of the foot. Additionally, diabetes increases the occurrence of blisters, corns, calluses, and other similar issues that may potentially turn dangerous.
Diabetes causes nerve damage, called neuropathy, in the feet, which potentially manifests as pain or tingling in the feet. Even more of a concern than pain or tingling is numbness or loss of feeling, as this can prevent the individual from feeling a crack, ulcer, or other wound that may become infected. Diabetic foot checks should include a careful search for wounds on every surface of the foot, even if no pain is felt. Areas that are often overlooked are the skin between the toes and under the toes on the bottom of the foot. For patients with limited movement or flexibility, doctors recommend using a mirror or having another person check the entirety of the feet, including the soles.
Symptoms to look for during diabetic foot checks include redness or streaking of the skin. This, and a warm or hot area of skin, may indicate an infection or an oncoming callus or blister. Other changes in skin color and temperature should be noted and carefully monitored. Cold, blue skin is indicative of poor circulation, and blackened areas of skin are where the skin has already died. Sores and other injuries need to be very closely monitored and treated to prevent infection.
Daily checks are important for those diabetics who already have foot problems. My mom checked my dad's feet every day, and I would check his shoes to make sure he hadn't picked up a tack or a staple (he was a teacher). Mom also massaged lotion into my dad's feet every night to keep them soft, and to help the circulation.
The main thing a diabetic needs to watch out for is small wounds that can get away from them if they're not being careful. All wounds should be bandaged immediately, with an application of antibiotic ointment. If the wound doesn't show good healing in a couple of weeks, see the doctor.
Diabetes *can* cause these complications, but it's by no means a sure thing, as long as the diabetic maintains control over the disease. Exercise and proper diet go a *long* way toward forestalling these conditions.
Even diabetics who have early indications of neuropathy and other problems can reverse many of the effects, just by getting their sugar levels down to normal. It can be done. I've been diabetic for six years, have kept my sugar under control and I exercise (walking, mostly) and my feet are just fine.
My doctor really looks my feet over about twice a year, but I see her every three months.
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