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The Diabetic Foot, Epidemiology, Symptoms, and Treatment

The Diabetic Foot, Epidemiology, Symptoms, and Treatment

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 25 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. If you are suffering from diabetes, your blood glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. After some time, this can damage your blood vessels and nerves. Nerve damage caused by this condition is not only painful but can also cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a sore, cut, or blister. Foot injuries such as these may lead to infections and ulcers. In serious cases, your feet may be amputated.

Once your blood vessels are damaged, it means that your feet will not be able to get enough oxygen and blood thereby leading to diabetic foot.


According to studies, an estimated 10% of people suffering from diabetes have a diabetic foot ulcer. · Painful diabetic neuropathy affects over 26% of couple with diabetes. · Diabetes is the most common cause of limb amputation with more than 80% of all amputations done on those with diabetic foot ulcers. · After the first amputation, an individual is likely to get a second amputation. · After amputation or the diabetic foot ulceration, there are high mortality rates with over 50% of patients dying within 5 years of developing an ulcer and over 70% dying after 5 years of foot amputation.

Foot problems that can be caused by diabetes

Diabetes mellitus generally leads to series foot problems. These include peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy. These two major diseases can lead to infections, diabetes foot ulcers, Charcot arthropathy, gangrene, and amputation. Some of the symptoms of neuropathy include loss of pain, protective sensations, and tingling sensations.

Patients may also develop abrasion, blister, and wound and may not feel any pain. More so, decreased coloration may cause skin temperature changes, pain, and skin discoloration. Depending on the problem, patients may notice a discoloration, swelling, increased warmth or coolness, red streaks, and injury with minimal pain. Those who have an infection may experience chills, fever, drainage loss, redness and loss of blood sugar.

Anatomy of the disease

The typical places that ulcers may form include top of the foot, along the bottom of the foot, ankle bones, and the side of the foot.

Tests and treatment

The diabetic foot medical examinations include physical examination, thorough history check, X-ray studies, laboratory tests, ultrasound, consultation, angiogram. Once the tests have been done, proper treatment should follow. Here are some of the treatment options

Antibiotics- If the doctor determines that an ulcer or a wound is infected, then an antibiotic may be prescribed to treat this. It’s, therefore, important for the patient to take the entire dose of antibiotic as prescribed by the doctor. The doctor may also give a single dose of antibiotic as a shot.

Referral to wound care center- Many hospitals now have care centers that specialize in the treatment of wounds and ulcers that are difficult to treat. In these centers, doctors, nurses, and other therapists work with the patients in developing the best treatment plan for the leg ulcer or wound.

Referral to orthopedic surgeon and podiatrists- In case The patient is suffering from any tore related problem, calluses, corns, flat feet or arthritis then he may be referred to these specialists.

Surgical treatment- Severe infections may be treated with amputation or urgent removal of decaying tissues. More so, gangrene may be treated with below the knee amputation or partial foot amputation.

Home health care- The doctor may also prescribe a home aide or a health nurse to help the patient with dressings and wound care, monitor blood sugar and taking the medications.