Diabetes is a major health issue in the United States and particularly in the southeast region of the county, where approximately 15% of the population is living with this disease. What’s more troubling is that the number of people with diabetes is expected to double in the next 20 years!
Why does it matter whether you have diabetes? It’s simple – diabetes is destructive to your body’s blood vessels, causing unpleasant and even severe complications for your heart and blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, GI tract and eyes. Diabetes can literally affect every part of the body, but one of the most common ways is through diabetic foot ulcers.
Diabetic foot ulcer is one of the most common complications of diabetes and is responsible for more hospitalizations than any other complication. These ulcers are open sores on the foot, usually circular in nature, occurring on the toes or heels but can be present anywhere on the foot. These may develop secondary to injury or because of a break in the skin, cuts, blisters, or foot deformity (causing callus formations that turn into ulcers).
Any inflammation or swelling on any part of the foot, any sign of infection (redness or drainage), or any unexplained pain, gangrene, or black areas should require you to see a doctor or provider as soon as possible. If these are left untreated, they can result in infection and which can lead to amputation.Early detection and treatment are important because diabetics with a foot ulcer have a 60% likelihood of becoming infected and, if infected, the risk of amputation increases. Foot ulcers are the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States. More noteworthy, those diabetics with foot ulcers have only a 60% chance of surviving 5 years. The survival rate of a diabetic with a foot ulcer is worse than that of breast or prostate cancer! But this statistic can be improved with the appropriate medical care.
What You Can Do
Know the SignsCould you have diabetes and not know it? Sometimes the initial symptoms of diabetes or pre-diabetes can be subtle and easily missed. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms:
• Blurry vision
• Excessive thirst
• Feeling exhausted, even after a full night’s rest
• Frequent urination
• Increased irritability
• Recurring yeast infections
• Slow or non-healing wounds
Understanding how you can control your blood sugar levels is the key to preventing the potentially dangerous complications of diabetes. Controlling blood sugars through proper insulin dosing, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, smoking and alcohol cessation, weight loss, regular medical checkups, and reporting any signs or symptoms about your feet are important in prevention of complications.
How We Can Help
Evaluating circulation is part of what we do at USA Vascular, and is one of the ways to prevent lower extremity amputation. Every individual with a foot ulcer, who has numbness in their lower extremities, tightness or pain in their calf or thigh should have their circulation evaluated by a vascular surgeon.The certified vascular surgeons at USA Vascular are the professionals best suited to treat these complicated circulation problems.
Patients will receive a full evaluation including an exam, and frequently blood flow tests, to determine if the circulation is adequate. If there is inadequate circulation to promote healing, then correction of the circulation may be done through small catheters and placement of stents, removal of the plaque, or angioplasty. Sometimes a bypass is necessary to save a leg. Most amputations are preventable with appropriate care – that’s why seeking care early when problems arise is critically important. The longer you wait, the greater risk of amputation and other complications.
If you have a concerning foot ulcer or any of the problems mentioned above, call us at 423.267.0466 to schedule a consultation with USA Vascular.