Managing the Risk Factors of Diabetes:
Diabetic patients have several risk factors that must be controlled to avoid health problems. Diet is very important in controlling blood glucose levels. Managing these levels poorly can result in damage to many organs in the body. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity also increase a diabetic’s risk for developing complications, such as heart disease
and strokes. By limiting fat consumption, salt intake, losing weight, and watching blood glucose levels, the diabetic can reduce his or her risk of complication. For more information about diabetes
risk factors and how to manage them, please consult a physician.
Diabetes and Nutrition
Diabetes can be managed through proper nutrition, exercise, and if necessary, medication. What foods to eat and in what quantity are very important for the diabetic to manage blood sugar levels. Diets for diabetics are worked out by their physician considering the patient’s age, weight, and amount of physical activity that they do each day. Proper consumption of fat, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and salt have an effect on blood glucose levels in the body. Managing blood glucose levels poorly can result in damage to the diabetic’s body organs. It is important that diabetics maintain a healthy weight, follow their prescribed diet closely, and eat at regular times during the day. For more information about diabetes and nutrition please consult a physician.
Medication and Insulin
Diabetics can be treated with diet and exercise, or they may need the addition of oral medication or insulin injections to be controlled. In healthy individuals, insulin is produced by the body to help break down food into energy that the body needs. Diabetics have an absence or shortage of insulin resulting in blood sugar levels in their bodies being too high. Diabetics must inject insulin at regular intervals or take medication by mouth to control blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels are allowed to remain too high, damage can be done to vital organs. With proper control of blood sugar, the diabetic can live a normal life. For more information about diabetes medication and insulin, please consult a physician.
Diabetes and Dialysis
Dialysis is a technique where waste products are filtered out of the blood when the kidneys are unable to perform this task. The kidneys remove waste products and maintain correct electrolyte balances in the blood. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys and result in chronic renal failure and the need for dialysis. Dialysis can maintain life for many years but it is very expensive; therefore, transplantation of a human kidney is the best treatment for renal failure. Properly managing blood sugar levels, the diabetic can reduce the chances of kidney damage and renal failure. For more information about dialysis, please consult a physician.
Due to hormonal and metabolic changes during pregnancy, some women with no history of diabetes will develop it during pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes. Prenatal screening by a physician will detect the condition. Usually the condition will go away after delivery. Women who develop gestational diabetes rarely need to take insulin to control their sugar level. Normally all that is required to control this condition is properly managing blood sugar through a controlled diet. Mothers with gestational diabetes have larger babies, more difficult birth, and a higher incidence of birth trauma and caesarean section. For more information on gestational diabetes, please consult a physician.
Foot Problems Associated with Diabetes
A serious complication of diabetes is foot infections that do not heal. Diabetes limits the blood to nerves of the feet and limits the ability of the body to fight infection. This can cause death of tissue in the foot. Symptoms of a diabetic foot infection include swelling, redness and pain. Ulcers on the sole of the foot may also occur. If left untreated, the foot will turn black and smell as the tissue dies. Treatment of foot infections includes antibiotics and possible hospitalization for surgical removal of infected tissue. Immediate attention by a doctor is needed for any diabetic foot problem. For more information about foot problems associated with diabetes and managing your risk, please consult a physician.
Caring for your Feet with Diabetes
It’s important to take special care of your feet when you have diabetes. Poor care can lead to serious problems – such as amputation. Diabetes affects your feet in two ways. Nerve damage may cause your feet to lose feeling. If this happens, a simple cut or sore can go unnoticed and lead to problems. Nerve damage may also change the shape of your feet causing pressure points. Blisters, sores and foot ulcers may form in these areas. Additionally, poor blood flow to the feet causes injuries to heal more slowly.
What You Can Do to Care for Your Feet
One of the most important things you can do is keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. A 10-year study published in 1993, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, proved that keeping blood sugar as close to normal as possible can reduce the risk of nerve damage by up to 56%. The following simple steps of foot care can help:
Check your feet every day. Look at the tops and bottoms. Look for scratches, cracks, cuts or blisters, especially between the toes and around the heal. Check for ingrown toenails, corns, calluses and sores. Also look for changes in color, temperature or shape.
Wash your feet every day with mild soap and luke warm water. It should be 90 to 95 degrees F. Do not soak your feet. Soaking can cause your skin to dry and crack. Gently dry your feet, especially between the toes. Keep skin from cracking by rubbing a thin coat of oil, lotion or cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not apply BETWEEN your toes. Use a little powder if your feet sweat.
Take care of your toenails. Cut your toenails after bathing when they are soft and easy to trim. Cut toenails straight across and smooth with an emery board.
Take care of corns and calluses. Gently rub corns and calluses with a pumice stone after you have washed your feet. This will take away extra skin that has built up. Do not use corn removers, callus removers, razor blades or knives on corns or calluses.
Protect your feet. Do not walk barefoot, even indoors. Use a sunscreen on the tops of your feet in summer. Break in new shoes slowly. Wear new shoes for only 1 or 2 hours at time. Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes. Socks made of cotton or wood feel the best. Wool socks are good for keeping your feet warm and dry.
Keep your blood flowing well. If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking decreases blood flow to the feet. Keep blood sugar and blood fat levels normal. Exercise every day. Keep your feet warm, but don’t use heating pads or hot water bottles on your feet. Don’t wear tight garters or socks.