Diabetic Foot: Do Not Ignore It!

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What Is Diabetic Foot
By Dr.Yalamanchi Aishwarya,
 ‘MD, DM’

YALAMANCHI DIABETES AND RESEARCH CENTER

Individuals having diabetes are prone to foot problems. Foot problems in people with diabetes can develop due to restricted blood flow or unnoticed cuts due to numbness in the area. Such unmanaged injuries can lead to infections and later to complications.

Diabetes has emerged as a global pandemic. The sly lifestyle disorder has silently crept into our houses and has become one of the leading causes of death. India houses approximately 7.7 crores of individuals with diabetes1. The steep rise in the number of people having diabetes is distressing. 

The upsurge in blood glucose levels comes with many complications too. 

Uncontrolled blood glucose levels damage many parts of the body, including the feet. Foot problems are common in people with long periods of uncontrolled blood sugar levels. The foot complications that result from diabetes occur because of either or both the causes:

  • Lack of blood supply in the affected area, leading to necrosis.
  • Sensory loss in the affected area

What are the symptoms of diabetic foot?

The symptoms of diabetic feet vary for every individual. Some individuals with diabetes may experience mild symptoms, while it may be painful and debilitating for others. 

The common symptoms of Diabetic foot include:

  • Numbness, 
  • Tingling, pain, and burning sensation in the legs
  • Loss of balance
  • Discoloration of skin
  • Foul smell from foot
  • Change in temperature of the skin
  • Blisters or other wounds without pain
  • Ingrown toenail or toenails infected with fungus

In severe cases, signs of infections, fever, chills, ulcers, bones, and joint pain can be present.

In my clinical practice, I have seen most people ignore these symptoms during the initial stage. It is advisable for diabetic people experiencing any of these symptoms to visit a doctor as soon as they notice any symptoms to prevent complications. 

Diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic foot infections can cause serious foot complications, which may have long-term implications for people living with diabetes resulting in amputations and death.

Any person with diabetes who experiences symptoms of infection, especially on the feet, should consult a specialist and seek treatment.

Who are at risk of developing Diabetic foot?

Diabetic foot is a common complication of diabetes. But did you ever wonder who is at higher risk to develop this complication? The people who are at greater risk of developing diabetic foot include:

  • Individuals having peripheral vascular disease
  • Individuals with uncontrolled blood glucose levels
  • People with a history of Diabetic kidney disease
  • People who smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol
  • The individuals who lead a sedentary life
  • People with nerve damage due to diabetes
  • History of foot ulcers or amputations

A recently conducted community-based study from South India showed that of the total diabetic population with a foot infection, 21.1% were tobacco chewers, 18.1% of people were alcoholics, and 6.5% of them were tobacco smokers. The study also found that 51% of people who developed diabetic foot infection led a sedentary lifestyle. 

With proper care and management, we manage diabetic foot and avoid serious complications. 

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