Diabetes Foot represents several diseases in which high blood glucose levels over time can damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Diabetes can also decrease the body's ability to fight infection. When diabetes is not well controlled, damage to the organs and impairment of the immune system is likely. Foot problems commonly develop in people with diabetes and can quickly become serious.
- With damage to the nervous system, a person with diabetes may not be able to feel his or her feet properly. Normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot is impaired. These factors together can lead to abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking and can lead to breakdown of the skin of the foot. Sores may develop.
- Damage to blood vessels and impairment of the immune system from diabetes make it difficult to heal these wounds. Bacterial infection of the skin, connective tissues, muscles, and bones can then occur. These infections can develop into gangrene. Because of the poor blood flow, antibiotics cannot get to the site of the infection easily. Often, the only treatment for this is amputation of the foot or leg. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, this process can be life-threatening.
- People with diabetes must be fully aware of how to prevent foot problems before they occur, to recognize problems early, and to seek the right treatment when problems do occur. Although treatment for diabetic foot problems has improved, prevention - including good control of blood sugar level - remains the best way to prevent diabetic complications.
- People with diabetes should learn how to examine their own feet and how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of diabetic foot problems.
- They should also learn what is reasonable to manage routine at home foot care, how to recognize when to call the doctor, and how to recognize when a problem has become serious enough to seek emergency treatment.
Medical Treatment for Diabetic Foot
- Antibiotics : If the doctor determines that a wound or ulcer on the patient's feet or legs is infected, or if the wound has high a risk of becoming infected, such as a cat bite,antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection or the potential infection. It is very important that the patient take the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed. Generally, the patient should see some improvement in the wound in two to three days and may see improvement the first day. For limb-threatening or life-threatening infections, the patient will be admitted to the hospital and given IV antibiotics. Less serious infections may be treated with pills as an outpatient. The doctor may give a single dose of antibiotics as a shot or IV dose prior to starting pills in the clinic or emergency department.
- Referral to wound care center : Many of the larger community hospitals now have wound care centers specializing in the treatment of diabetic lower extremity wounds and ulcers along with other difficult-to-treat wounds. In these multidisciplinary centers, professionals of many specialties including doctors, nurses, and therapists work with the patient and their doctor in developing a treatment plan for the wound or leg ulcer. Treatment plans may include surgical debridement of the wound, improvement of circulation through surgery or therapy, special dressings, and antibiotics. The plan may include a combination of treatments.
- Referral to podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon : If the patient has bone-related problems, toenail problems, corns and calluses, hammertoes, bunions, flat feet, heel spurs, arthritis, or have difficulty with finding shoes that fit, a physician may refer you to one of these specialists. They create shoe inserts, prescribe shoes, remove calluses and have expertise in surgical solutions for bone problems. They can also be an excellent resource for how to care for the patient's feet routinely.
- Home health care : The patient's doctor may prescribe a home health nurse or aide to help with wound care and dressings, monitor blood sugar, and help the patient take antibiotics and other medications properly during the healing period.