Simply explained, what is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body don’t recognise insulin. Insulin is like a key that unlocks the door on the cells for glucose to enter, providing the cell with energy. If our key, in this case insulin, isn’t present to unlock the doors, then the glucose stays in the blood. Of course every time we eat, we make more glucose, and this leads to high levels of glucose in the blood, and not getting to where it is needed, in our cells.
We have been told how diabetes is growing rapidly, and currently there are over 270,000 people with Type 2 Diabetes. However when people have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they have normally had for a period of time, around 5 years.
Why is the foot affected by diabetes?
Foot problems in diabetics are caused by nerve damage and, or damage to blood vessels. This condition causes complications to the foot, and it is critical for podiatrists to check diabetic feet regularly. Simply put, when damage to the nerves in the foot progresses, you lose feeling in your feet eventually to the point where you can’t even feel pain. So if you stood on a sharp object for example a pin, it doesn’t hurt, and often you don’t even know it’s in your foot. So we keep walking around with the pin lodged in the foot while it becomes infected. Our nerves are also responsible for activating our muscles, and when they are damaged, the muscles become inactive, retract and deformities can form. The nervous system also controls the sweating function in the foot. If the foot cannot sweat, we actually develop a dry foot, particularly around the heels. When these appear, you must apply a suitable moisturiser or the cracks get deeper and longer that can finally break the skin, letting in possible infections.
Once blood circulation in the foot is affected, we are not getting nutrients and oxygen to our feet. And if we have no oxygen going to any part our body, cells begin to die. Blood also carries our defences against infection. If the blood isn’t getting say to that pin in the foot, then it can’t fight any infection that may be happening. With no defence against an infection, it just grows bigger and develops into a serious condition that can lead to ulcers, bone infection and amputation.
As the foot develops deformities, then callus or corns will develop and these must be removed by a podiatrist as soon as possible. If not, they can lead to infection, ulcers and amputation.
This is a very brief and simple explanation of the diabetic foot. If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, see a podiatrist at least once a year. It is advisable for a podiatrist to trim your toe nails, because it lowers risk of injury and infection, plus that is the time a podiatrist can check the conditions of your foot and lower leg. This helps us manage the foot and prevent serious complications.