November is National Diabetes Awareness Month!
Daily foot care is a mandatory activity for all diabetic patients whether they like it or not. There are several things diabetics must do at home in order to ensure minimal complications from their diabetes. Before we cover the daily duties let us first learn about the diabetic team of the patient. First you must have a general practitioner or family doctor. This doctor acts as a general contractor diagnosing problems and calling on specialists to fix any problems that may arise. Next, is the endocrinologist, who is in charge of making sure your diabetes is under control, be it medications or lifestyle changes. The vascular surgeon is called to join the team if the patient has poor circulation. It is quite common for diabetics to have vascular disease in the arms and legs. Typically the vascular surgeon will treat your problem with medicine and if that fails then more invasive therapies may be utilized. Your eye doctor is responsible to track and treat the progression of any eye problems the diabetic may encounter. Since diabetic retinopathy is a common complication it is very important to diagnose it as fast as possible. Your podiatrist is of course responsible for the care of your lower extremity and will help prevent complications by educating the patient and utilizing various treatments such as diabetic shoes and padding. Your podiatrist can also help treat diabetic nerve problems such burning, tingling or numbness. This is known as diabetic neuropathy. The most important part of the team is of course “you” the patient. The patient’s responsibility is of the utmost importance because everything the patient says regarding their health will affect the decision of every doctor on their team. The patient must remain vigilant and monitor their own health in order to prevent complications.
So what does the patient have to do to help prevent complications of diabetes?
- Daily foot checks
- Maintaining a proper sugar level
- Taking proper medication
- Practice good hygiene
- Visiting their doctors
- Utilizing diabetic shoes/protective shoe gear
Daily foot checks should be a simple inspection of all aspects of the feet. The patient should examine the top, bottom, nails, lower legs (both front and back), and their toe web spaces. This quick examination should take less than five minutes of time and could also be incorporated with the application of your foot cream. Be it moisturizing or anti fungal, take the time to check your feet while you apply your creams. Also, if you have trouble lifting your legs to see the bottom of your feet, just purchase a moderately sized mirror that you can use to see the all sides of your feet. You could also place the mirror on the floor and hover your foot over it to examine your feet. A family member is also very valuable and can help with the examination.
Maintaining your proper glucose levels, exercising, dieting, and taking your proper medication can all be lumped into one category. These are parts of the routine that should be second in nature but can also be very tedious. If the patient can perform all these activities and maintain that healthy lifestyle, then its possible to slow down the progression of diabetes to almost a complete stop. One has to dedicate their time and energy to performing these activities every day in order to achieve optimum results. Patient’s can seek the help of diet specialists and personal trainers to aid in their journey to healthy living.
Practicing good hygiene is quite an important step. This should be a part of the daily routine but sometimes we can neglect our feet. When we wash our feet we have to do more than just get them wet in the shower. Scrubbing between the toes and all over the foot with either a brush or wash cloth is the most effective method I have tried. I also like to have a seat in the shower/tub so that I can sit down and maintain my balance while washing my feet. Simply placing a small plastic chair in the shower will help tremendously with maintaining clean feet. Also, you can then use the same chair out of the shower to completely dry your feet. When we leave moisture between our toes it creates a very cozy home for bacteria and germs to grow and cause symptoms such as redness, burning, itching, and also blisters.
Visiting your doctor and attaining proper shoe gear can be coupled together because if you are diabetic and do not have diabetic shoes, you need to see your podiatrist immediately. Wearing diabetic shoes with custom heat moldable inserts, decreases the pressure on the feet and the shoe in general decreases friction and pressure all over the foot. The toe box can also be a little higher so that there is no pressure on the tops of the toes or the nails. Your podiatrist will ensure that you have the best protection for your feet to prevent future complications. Your team of doctors is a close knit group of people all concentrating on the well being of their patients. Visit them as instructed to ensure that you avoid any unnecessary complications of diabetes. At Advanced Podiatry we communicate with the doctors of our patients regularly in order to create easy lines of communications for optimum care. We continue to bring your health team closer together with our advanced electronic medical records system and are working every day to improve its efficiency. Please stop in or call and make an appointment at Advanced Podiatry for all your diabetic foot needs.