Diabetes Awareness Month Offers Tips for Avoiding Foot Ulcers
Diabetes Awareness Month teaches patients to take an active role in their care, including preventing foot ulcers.
Rather than passive recipients of care, diabetic foot wound patients and the actions they take are an important part of the healing process. With that in mind, the importance of patient self-care in treating diabetes and diabetic wounds is the theme of this year’s Diabetes Awareness Month.
An active role
Behind the theme “You Are the Center of Your Diabetes Care Team,” the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases is encouraging patients to take a more active role in their treatment, and for clinicians to provide them with the knowledge and instruction to do so.
In addition, the organization is promoting ways for the community as a whole to bring awareness to diabetes and the complications that can arise from it, such as diabetic foot ulcers.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, 15 percent of all people with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer and of that number, 6 percent will be hospitalized for a complication related to the foot ulcer.
The APMA added that approximately 14-24 percent of diabetes patients who go on to develop a foot ulcer will ultimately require amputation.
Know the cause and signs
Foot ulcers are the result of several factors coming together: poor circulation due to diabetes, a lack of sensation in the foot resulting from related nerve damage, irritation (abrasive friction or constant pressure), trauma and the length of time the patient has had diabetes.
The institute recommends patients take four key steps to manage their diabetes and reduce the possibility of developing a diabetic foot ulcer:
- Learn the basics of diabetes, including the various kinds (type 1, type 2 and gestational) and know the members of your care team (your clinician, your family, your specialized diabetes doctor or educator, mental health counselor, pharmacist, etc.), signs to watch for and actions to take.
- The ABCs of diabetes care (A-the A1C blood test to measure blood sugar, B-your blood pressure and C-your cholesterol level).
- Learning to live with your diabetes (including eating right and self-examination, including checking your feet every day for cuts, blisters and swelling).
- Regular visits to your health care team (get a foot check every visit and a complete foot exam once a year).
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