Reference Library

Diabetes

Diabetes results from the body’s inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin is necessary for the body to metabolize and use energy from ingested nutrients, especially glucose.

In the absence of insulin, the body cannot convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy. The result? an elevated blood sugar level, whose long-term effects can include serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves and feet.

There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper diet, exercise and medical care, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life.

Symptoms of diabetes

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of diabetes. Warning signs include:

  • Skin color changes
  • Swelling of the foot or ankle
  • Numbness in the feet or toes
  • Pain in the legs
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
  • Ingrown and fungal toenails
  • Bleeding corns and calluses
  • Dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel

Foot care tips for diabetics

  • Inspect your feet daily. Check your toes and feet every day for cuts, sores, bruises, swelling or changes to the toenails (such as thickening or discoloration).
  • Wear thick soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which can rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.
  • Don't go barefoot. Don't go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of injuries, cuts and infections is too great.
  • Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time. A properly fitting shoe can prevent many problems.
  • Exercise. Walking can help maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear properly fitting athletic shoes when exercising.
  • Never try to remove corns, calluses or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin and cause damage to your foot.
  • Get regular checkups from a podiatrist. At least annually is the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy.

 

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