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How Diabetes Can Cause Foot Problems

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If you have diabetes, it's crucial for you to work with your doctor to control your blood sugar levels. This is because high blood sugar damages many parts of the body, particularly the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to your organs and nerves. Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar can spell serious problems for your feet.

Damages Nerves to Your Feet

Nerves send signals throughout your body, including your feet. Nerves that are damaged from long-term high blood sugar may cease sending signals, or they may send signals at a slower-than-normal rate or at the wrong times. You may not feel normal signals like pain or heat in your feet, which increases the risk for burning or hurting yourself accidentally since you would not feel the signal to pull away from the source of the pain. This also prevents you from feelings things such as a blister caused by ill-fitting shoes. Sores on your feet can also become infected and further compromise your health. In addition, the excess glucose feeds the infection, making it worse. If you're outside in cold weather, you might not be able to feel that your feet are too cold, increasing the risk of frostbite because you won't know whether you need to insulate your feet better with extra socks or warmer shoes.

Reduces Blood Flow

Inadequate blood flow means that not enough blood is flowing to your legs and feet through your blood vessels. Reduced blood flow makes it difficult for a sore that you may have to get the blood it needs to heal. The same is true for infections. When this happens, it's called peripheral artery disease, or PAD. If you have PAD, a bad infection may continue unabated. The infection might get so bad that it causes gangrene -- a condition where the tissue dies from lack of blood flow. A sign of gangrene is skin that turns black. Prompt attention to any sore or infection on your foot helps prevent gangrene. If the tissue can't be saved, your doctor will have to cut it away. This is how people with diabetes lose a toe or part of their foot. Your podiatrist can perform tests to see how sufficient the blow flow is to your legs and feet. If blood flow is poor, your doctor will discuss treatment options, such as clearing blocked blood vessels to improve blood flow and keep the tissue healthy.