How Diabetes Affects Your Feet

How Diabetes Affects Your Feet

Diabetes is a common disease, becoming more common as Americans become more overweight and less active. It’s a condition where blood sugar levels remain elevated due to a lack of the hormone insulin (Type 1) or a resistance to insulin’s effects (Type 2). 

About 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, including 1 in 4 people over the age of 65. Some 90-95% of adult diabetics are Type 2, the most preventable form.

At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, podiatrist Dr. Robert Sheffey and his team are passionate that our patients with diabetes understand the foot conditions the disease can cause, how best to avoid them, and how best to treat them. 

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you through the process. Here’s what you need to know.

How does diabetes affect my feet?

If not properly controlled, the high sugar levels indicative of diabetes can lead to a number of other health conditions. These include:

In addition, your feet become more easily injured, because poor circulation leads to decreased sensation. If you don’t inspect your feet every day, you might not realize you stubbed your toe, got a cut, have an ingrown toenail, or have a sore developing until it’s become a problem.

Foot wounds are now the No. 1 cause of diabetes-related hospitalization. Diabetics are at a 30 times higher lifetime risk of having a lower extremity amputated following a foot infection than non-diabetics.

And diabetics also run at least a 10 times greater risk of being hospitalized for podiatric soft tissue and bone infections than those without diabetes.

Other foot-related problems made worse by diabetes include bunions, corns and calluses, and athlete’s foot.

Diagnosing and treating diabetic foot problems

If you have diabetes and come in for a foot care evaluation, Dr. Sheffey reviews your medical history and your symptoms, examines your feet and toes, and tests the circulation in and sensitivity of your feet.

Depending on what he finds, Dr. Sheffey might recommend:

Diabetic shoes and insoles

This special type of footwear has no seams, is nonbinding, and is heavily padded. It’s designed to provide a pressure-free environment, offering extra protection for feet that are sensitive or numb or that have unhealed ulcers. It significantly lowers your risk of blisters, cuts, and serious infections.

Wound care

We provide comprehensive wound care for blisters and ulcers. Once Dr. Sheffey removes the damaged tissue, he may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to clear up any infection, and dressings and bandages to coddle your feet and let them heal.

Dr. Sheffey always advocates for proper at-home foot care, so you can prevent problems before they happen. These tips include:

Diabetes affects many parts of your body, including your feet. If you’re a diabetic and haven’t had a foot exam in a while, call to set up a consultation or book online with us today. Your feet will thank you.

We have two offices in Chicago, as well as one in Orland Park and in New Lenox, Illinois.

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