Diabetes is among the most common chronic conditions in the United States today, with many millions of adolescents and adults alike living with this condition. The rare Type 1 diabetes and the more common Type 2 diabetes can be dangerous if untreated, but fortunately, the American medical industry is well-informed about diabetes and well-equipped to help the many Americans who have it. Diabetes affects various parts of the body, and while it may sound mundane, a person’s feet may need care when diabetes is involved. Diabetic foot care is a field in itself, and a diabetic foot specialist can go a long way toward dealing with a patient’s foot pain and taking care of their foot health in general. The best podiatrist in a patient’s area may be a diabetic foot specialist, and a patient may see their doctor and get referred to a diabetic foot specialist who can help them. What is there to know about diabetic foot care and seeing a diabetic foot specialist?
Nearly everyone has heard of diabetes, and many Americans are in fact either diabetic or prediabetic (that is, at risk of soon getting it). How common is this condition? The American Association of Diabetes Educators has released data showing that a reported 30.3 million Americans had diabetes at the end of 2017, for a recent example. What is more, prediabetes has proven even more common, meaning that many Americans are at risk of becoming diabetic due to their health or lifestyle. The American Association of Diabetes Educators has showed that a huge 33.9% of the American adult population in fact has prediabetes. This is a lot of people who are at risk of developing full-blown diabetes, either Type 1 or the more common Type 2.
Diabetes is a problem with the endocrine system, which is responsible for many glands and secretions throughout the body. The problem starts when a person’s blood sugar is too high, too often, and the body is forced to secrete high levels of insulin to maintain it. This hormone is a natural product for maintaining blood sugar, but an overworked endocrine system may become worn out and unable to secrete insulin on its own. If this happens, a person’s blood sugar may become dangerously high and stay that way. This is diabetes, and it can be dangerous without medical intervention. It is also known to present with many different symptoms, some of which may be surprising.
Someone with diabetes must contend not only with blood sugar levels, but also with frequent numbness and tingling in the nerves of their extremities. In particular, the patient’s feet may suffer from this, and numbness may often be the result. The problem with foot numbness is not only discomfort, but the fact that the patient can’t easily avoid harmful situations for their feet. The feet may be standing in dangerously hot water or on hot surfaces, and they may burn their skin without knowing it. The patient may also suffer from cuts or bruises on their feet and not even know about it. This is why a diabetic foot specialist may be consulted.
Someone who suspects that they are diabetic may visit their doctor and explain as much, and they will be referred to an endocrinologist for further testing and questioning. And someone who has a confirmed diabetes diagnosis may ask for a diabetic foot specialist in particular if this has become a concern. Someone who visits their endocrinologist may provide up-to-date information with each visit, including explaining foot problems.
What might a diabetic foot specialist do? In many cases, they will provide medical guidelines for how the patient can minimize the chances of injury or medical complications of their feet. The specialist will urge the diabetic to keep their feet protected at all times, such as with shoes, house shoes, socks, and more to protect against sharp surfaces, heat, or anything else. The specialist will also advise the patient to check their feet regularly for any unusual developments, and may explain when and how often to perform these checks and what to look for. Feet should be kept warm and dry whenever possible, but not too dry. Carefully controlled moisturizing can prevent dry and cracked skin.