The Center For Disease Control said that around 60% of the amputations in the lower-limb that are not caused by trauma among people ages 20 and above occur in patients with diabetes who suffered from diabetic neuropathy. The risk of amputation among diabetics increases when blood sugar levels are not properly managed.
Diabetic neuropathy is also known as nerve damage that occurs in diabetes patients. This typically develops when high blood sugar levels are not managed. It develops in 60% to 70% of diabetes cases and puts the patient at risk of amputation.
The risk of diabetic neuropathy increases with age and excess weight. Patients who have been managing their diabetes for more than 25 years are also at a high risk of diabetic neuropathy. High cholesterol levels, hypertension, and poor lifestyle habits can also put the patient at a higher risk.
Peripheral neuropathy causes tingling, numbness and in severe cases lack sensation in the hands and feet caused by high blood sugar levels. This means if you are less careful, you can easily injure your feet without feeling any pain.
If you fail to monitor the conditions of your feet, your injuries could get infected and become foot ulcers. And because slow healing is associated with diabetes patients, the infection could get worse and possibly require amputation to prevent the infection from spreading.
According to a study in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, there are about 0.65% of patients under the age 44 who suffer from ulcers. The risk increases to 1.3% as you age. These numbers may seem small right now but when ulcers occur, they can turn extremely dangerous without treatment.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Diabetics are also at a high risk of peripheral artery disease. This is when diabetics experience atherosclerosis of the clogging of the arteries. When this occurs, arteries become stiff and obstruct your blood flow. This prevents proper circulation of nutrients in the body, making it hard for foot ulcers to heal.
As per Dr. David Klonoff, a medical director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in San Mateo, California and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, the ulcer needs enough blood supply for the healing to initiate. Without proper blood flow, ulcers will only get worse.
If you are diabetic and would like to reduce the chances of amputation, you need to start taking care of your health seriously. According to a professional from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Richard A. Frieden M.D., medical director of the Amputation Specialty Program, one major step to preventing amputation is gaining better control of your blood glucose levels.
Here are other suggestions you can follow:
Quit smoking - Smoking increases your triglycerides (TAG) and can influence your bad cholesterols to skyrocket. By quitting this habit, you can reduce the likelihood of atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease. If you have trouble quitting this habit, seek help from your physician. He or she can refer you to a specialist who will help you out.
Inspect your feet and mind proper hygiene - If you have started feeling some tingling and numbness in your feet, you need to be twice more attentive than you were. Inspect your feet from time to time and observe proper hygiene by washing your feet every day. If you see a minor cut, tend to it right away.
Always wear a footwear - Even at the earlier stages of neuropathy, you will not feel anything even if you step on a shard of glass says Dr. Deena Adimoolam, an assistant professor of diabetes and an endocrinologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. So never walk barefooted to prevent injury.
Wear clean and white socks - Wearing socks is not just for added protection. Bleeding is easier to spot when you have white socks on.
Shake out your shoes regularly - This helps make sure that there is no pebble or any object lodged inside your shoe that can irritate or wound your feet.
See a podiatrist - Having a podiatrist in your diabetes management care team will help you take better care of your feet. Your podiatrist will help inspect the conditions of your feet, cut your toenails properly and recommend you wear footwear that fits perfectly. Your doctor will also help treat any signs of injury that could cause foot ulcers.
When ulcers and other wounds become too infected, these damaged tissues can eventually become too painful and life-threatening. When antibiotics and other measures do not work anymore, this is when amputation becomes necessary.
Losing a body part, even as little as your toe can be emotionally traumatic. the patient may experience problems like social discomfort, body-image anxiety, and depression. So it is important that you take care of your health and maintain your blood glucose levels to prevent amputation from happening.