What is diabetes mellitus?
All the human cells need sugar to work normally. Sugar enters into the cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. If there is not enough insulin, or if the body stops responding to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood. That is what happens to people with diabetes.
There are 2 different types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the problem is that the body makes no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the problem is that:
- The body’s cells do not respond to insulin
- The body does not make enough insulin
- Or both
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
- urinate often
- intense thirst
- blurry vision
The high blood glucose (sugar) levels, which can cause serious problems over time if untreated:
- Heart attacks
- Kidney disease
- Vision problems (or even blindness)
- Pain or loss of feeling in the hands and feet
- The need to have fingers, toes, or other body parts removed (amputated)
Foot Complications of Diabets
Diabetes can lead to many different types of foot complications, including athlete’s foot (a fungal infection), calluses, bunions and ulcers that can range from a surface wound to a deep infection.
Diabetic patients are known to experience more infections in clean wounds than nondiabetic patients and to heal more slowly, especially in the feet area . The burn patients had significantly higher hospital admission rates for diabetes after the injury when compared with uninjured people .
The high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the foot. This poor circulation can weaken the skin, contribute to the formation of ulcers, and impair wound healing. Some bacteria and fungi thrive on high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, and bacterial and fungal infections can break down the skin and complicate ulcers.
More serious complications include deep skin and bone infections. Gangrene (death and decay of tissue) is a very serious complication that may include infection; widespread gangrene may require foot amputation. Approximately 5 percent of men and women with diabetes eventually require amputation of a toe or foot . This tragic consequence can be prevented in most patients by managing blood sugar levels and daily foot care.
Treatment includes lifestyle changes, self-care measures, and sometimes medications. Fortunately, these treatments can keep blood sugar levels close to normal and minimize the risk of developing complications.
- Morain WD, Colen LB. Wound healing in diabetes mellitus. Clin Plast Surg. 1990 Jul; 17(3):493-501.
- Duke JM, Randall S, Fear MW, Boyd J, O’Halloran E, Rea S, et al. Increased admissions for diabetes mellitus after burn injury. Burns 2016;42:1734–9.
- Almaraz MC, González-Romero S, Bravo M, Caballero FF, Palomo MJ, Vallejo R, Esteva I, Calleja F, Soriguer F. Incidence of lower limb amputations in individuals with and without diabetes mellitus in Andalusia (Spain) from 1998 to 2006. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Mar; 95(3):399-405.