Just around the corner is Thanksgiving Day, a time when families and friends gather around the table and torture you with their delicious foods, right? You just got the news that you are diabetic and in your mind you know you should be eating better, lose a little weight, and your doctor just told you to see a podiatrist.
What does a podiatrist have to do with my diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a growing problem and it has been attributed to our fast food eating lifestyle, affecting mostly adults but now it is alarmingly seen in younger patients.
I partner with many primary care doctors to educate patients with diabetes of the effects it has on the feet. A podiatrist is a foot and ankle specialist who sees complications of the lower extremity in diabetic patients routinely. They help prevent amputations.
Here’s what I want you to know:
1. High blood glucose (sugar) control correlates with nerve damage. Early signs and symptoms of nerve damage is burning, tingling sensation to the legs, worse at night time. Once the nerve is damaged, it can lead to numbness (neuropathy) and that is where the majority of problems lie. Without being able to feel your feet, you may accidentally step on something that cuts your skin, not know it, and it brews into an infection. This nerve damage is irreversible but it can be slowed down with better sugar control.
2. High blood glucose (sugar) control also affects your circulation and symptoms show as cramping in the legs with walking, feeling better at rest. This is when there is not enough blood flow going to your legs, referred to peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Early detection and intervention has the best outcomes.
3. Sugar control is not just avoiding chips, candies and soda but also foods like white bread, pasta, potato and tortillas. What do these all have in common? They spike your sugars quick because they are digested fast. They also do not keep you full for long so you’ll be grabbing for more food in no time. Aim for wholesome minimally processed foods high in fiber (keeps you full) like fresh vegetables, whole wheat, brown rice, and lean proteins (chicken, fish, beans, and tofu, for example).
What you can do at home – prevention:
1. Be proactive in your care. See a podiatrist as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes. They can check for areas that may be susceptible to problems, such as callus build up, hammertoe deformities, toenail fungus and so on. They can also determine if you have poor circulation and refer you to the right person for additional care.
2. Check your feet daily, including the bottom and in between the toes. If there are openings in the skin, do not soak your foot. You can apply antibiotic ointment and a bandaid, changing it daily. Then make sure you see your podiatrist right away.
3. Keep a foot care schedule. Patients with diabetes and no other complications are recommended to be seen for foot care at least once a year. Patients with a wound to the lower extremity are seen weekly. Ask your podiatrist what they recommend for your situation.
If you or a loved one would like to see Dr. Tea Nguyen for a diabetic foot evaluation, please call 831-288-3400.
We will be closed Thanksgiving Day 11/22/18. Happy holidays!