Diabetes causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels may cause damage to blood vessels and nerves in your body. Damage to nerves means you may have burning pain or loss of feeling in part of your body (this is called diabetic neuropathy). Damage to blood vessels in your feet means your feet may not be getting a good supply of blood.
People with diabetes often have trouble with their feet. Part of the problem is that of loss of feeling in your feet makes it hard for you to tell if you have a blister or a sore. If little sores aren’t taken care of, they can get worse and turn into ulcers (serious, deep sores). If these ulcers become infected, you may have to be admitted to the hospital. In very serious cases, a foot or part of the foot may have to be amputated (removed). This section will give you some tips on how to care for your feet.
Keep your blood sugars as close to normal as possible. Also, follow your doctor's advice on diet, exercise and medicine. Here are some other ways to protect your feet:
Pressure ulcers, also called bed sores, can cause serious problems for older adults and individuals with impaired mobility. There are ways to prevent and treat this common problem.
A pressure ulcer is an injury to the skin and the tissue underneath it. It is simply caused by too much pressure, rubbing or friction to an area of skin. Damage can range from discolored, unbroken skin to deep wounds down to muscle or bone.
They form where skin and underlying tissue is pressed against bone by body weight or some other form of pressure. The location depends on one’s positioning and ability to move. Persons confined to bed usually develop ulcers on the lower back below the waist, on the skin over the hip bone and on the heels. Those in wheelchairs may have ulcers form on the skin over the buttocks, elbows and shoulder blades.
You should examine the areas of the body that are exposed to pressure and watch for reddened skin. Protect the skin from extreme dryness or moisture by applying moisturizers to the skin to keep skin from getting too dry and using pads to absorb wetness away from the skin. Clean the skin as soon as possible after soiling from urine or stool and applying creams or ointments to protect skin from urine, stool or drainage. Other strategies include: limiting pressure over bony parts by changing position at least every one to two hours; avoiding friction by lifting instead of dragging when moving; supporting the body and preventing contact of one body part against another with pillows or wedges; using a special mattress to reduce pressure; avoiding donut-shaped cushions when sitting and eating a well-balanced diet that provides adequate protein and calories. You may need to talk with your Primary Care Provider about nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals if eating a normal diet is not possible
Treatment of pressure ulcers focuses on many of the very same activities done to prevent them: for example, reducing or eliminating pressure from the sore and adequate nutrition to promote healing. Special care for the ulcer includes cleaning the sore, removing dead tissue and applying a bandage or dressing to protect the area while it heals. Ask your nurse for specific instructions on relieving pressure, changing positions safely, and for cleaning and dressing the ulcer. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment has not been shown to be effective.
Preventing Pressure Ulcers: A Patient’s Guide (ACHR Pub 92-0048). To order, call 800-358-9295; on-line edition at www.ncbi.nim.gov/books/NBK12258/ (Verified 03/2011)
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