If you have Type 1 diabetes, you’re no stranger to constant health checks. You test your blood glucose several times a day, manage insulin and other medications, calculate carbs every time you eat, monitor your mental health, work in daily exercise, and constantly play diabetes detective to figure out why you’re tired, thirsty, or hungry.
Diabetes never lets you take a break. And while it seems unfair to add yet another potential problem to your list, you can’t ignore your feet.
Diabetic feet are notorious for causing problems that go undetected until they've progressed to the point of no return. To maintain control over Type 1 diabetes, you need a team of medical professionals on your side. At The Endocrine Center in Houston, Texas, we partner with you and help shoulder the weight of your diabetes management.
We specialize in endocrinological disorders and diseases, including diabetes mellitus, and provide the most advanced treatments available. In fact, we typically offer emerging treatments up to seven years sooner than other providers.
We’re also passionate about education because much of your diabetes care relies on you. We provide sound information about your nutritional and exercise needs and how to cope with the myriad variables that affect your health when you live with Type 1 diabetes — including your feet.
Here, we explain why it’s important to monitor your foot health and how to prevent problems with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes and nerve damage
About 50% of diabetics have nerve damage. It’s called diabetic neuropathy, and it occurs when high blood glucose damages the small blood vessels in your body. Without these vessels, nutrients can’t reach your nerves, so they, too, become damaged. Diabetic neuropathy can happen anywhere in your body.
Focal neuropathy affects a single nerve or body part. For example, ocular focal neuropathy can cause eye pain, inability to focus, and blurry vision. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control your vital organs, such as your heart, urinary tract, digestive system, sweat glands, and reproductive system.
Diabetic polyneuropathy affects the long nerves that branch out from your spine and extend to your limbs. This type of neuropathy most commonly attacks the longest nerves, namely, those that run from your back to your feet, and that’s why diabetics have frequent foot problems.
Not all diabetics develop neuropathy, but you’re at a higher risk than most if you:
- Are older than 40
- Are overweight or obese
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Don’t manage your blood glucose well
- Lead a sedentary life
If you develop diabetic neuropathy in your feet, you could experience pain, tingling, cramps, extreme sensitivity, weakness, and loss of balance and coordination.
Loss of sensitivity and numbness means you don't feel pain, so you don't realize when an injury occurs. You don’t notice small cuts or blisters, which may become infected. In addition, the neuropathy slows the healing process. Every day, 230 diabetic Americans suffer an amputation due to uncontrolled infections they didn’t feel.
Tips for taking care of your diabetic feet
You can avoid the tragic consequences of untreated foot wounds by following these common-sense foot care tips designed specifically for diabetics.
- Check your feet daily for wounds
- Monitor your feet and toenails for changes
- Wash your feet daily
- Dry your feet completely, especially between your toes
- Moisturize your feet, but not between your toes
- Don’t go barefoot
- Trim your toenails straight across and file sharp edges
- Wear roomy shoes
- Wiggle your toes often to keep blood flowing
- Don’t remove calluses and corns yourself
Most importantly, partner with a team of medical specialists who can help you manage your Type 1 diabetes and keep your feet and body healthy. We have three locations throughout Houston. Contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment with one of our Type 1 diabetes specialists.