Diabetes Management: Focus on the feet

I was at a diabetes health fair yesterday (yes, I know. Very riveting.). I work with seniors, and it is becoming increasingly more frequent to see seniors with diabetes, type I and II.  So we were invited to help spread the word about having a healthy lifestyle to prevent all sorts of diseases, including diabetes.

I did not really know a whole lot about diabetes. I knew it had something to do with your blood sugar and it affected how and what you ate. Some people regulated their diabetes with insulin and others by diet and exercise. I just left it at that.

Did you know that diabetes can affect your feet? Yes, your feet. This consequence of the disease was completely foreign to me. That is, until someone in my parent’s neighborhood was deeply affected by diabetes. Throughout her life I have always known her as ill. She had childhood onset diabetes, dealing with the disease all of her life.

At one point she had a kidney transplant from her brother (I vaguely remember a hospital visit when I was 12). Her sight is severely impacted, getting worse every year.  A few years ago she lost her foot. She always walked with a ankle boot because she had sores on her feet. The sores got bigger and bigger and finally, she had to have her foot amputated.

This is not an isolated event. Sores on the feet of those with diabetes is common, but it can be preventable. One booth at the health fair was teaching just that.  Here are some tried and true ways to avoid problems with your feet associated with diabetes:

  • Wash your feet. Every day. The booth attendant told me about a man who could not really bathe himself and he was overweight. This made it hard for him to check the bottom of his feet. When he went to the doctor, he had a hole in his foot. A hole. Good hygiene and keeping your feet clean is the first step to avoid getting a hole. Wash your feet in warm water and dry your feet very well. Use talcum or baby powder in between your toes to keep away the moisture.
  • Check your feet every day. The man who had the hole in his foot did not feel any pain. If it is hard for you to check the bottom of your feet, then use a hand held mirror. The man with the hole had to eventually amputate his foot. That could have been prevented if the sore was caught much earlier.
  • Trim your toenails. Toenails are a place where germs love to hide. The nail can turn yellow or black and get too thick. Keep them trimmed and shaped to avoid bacteria.
  • Visit your doctor. Diabetes require constant management. It is not something that goes away. Get a free health insurance quote (insert your ZIP code above) and see a doctor. He or she can teach you how to manage your health so avoid any unnecessary amputations.