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August 27, 2008 > Diabetes Can Knock You Off Your Feet

Diabetes Can Knock You Off Your Feet

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Foot Care

Diabetes can literally knock you off your feet. People with diabetes are at risk for serious foot problems. High blood sugar levels associated with the disease can damage many parts of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and feet. The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent foot problems and live a healthier life.
"With diabetes, the skin and the nerves are compromised," said Dr. Warren Johnson, a podiatrist who will present an upcoming seminar on diabetes and foot care. "The skin's ability to heal is impaired."
Part of Washington Hospital's free Diabetes Matters education series, "Diabetes and Your Feet" will be held on Thursday, September 4, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.
Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone it needs to convert food into energy. When this process is not working correctly, blood sugar levels rise.
Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin and accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of the disease. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive. More common is type 2 diabetes, when the cells do not properly use insulin.
Common Foot Problems
Johnson will talk about some of the common foot problems related to diabetes, including corns, calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, bunions, plantar warts, hammertoes, dry and cracked skin, and athlete's foot. People with diabetes are at much greater risk of developing serious infections from these common foot problems due to nerve damage and poor blood flow that can result from high blood sugar levels.
Nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, in the legs and feet make it harder to feel pain. A sore or cut on your foot may get worse because you don't know it's there.
"The nerves don't get the blood supply they need and they short out, like an electrical wire that won't conduct electricity," Johnson said.
Damage to the arteries can restrict the flow of blood to your legs and feet. Poor blood flow makes it hard for a sore or infection to heal.
These two conditions work together to make matters worse. For example, you get a blister on your foot and because of nerve damage, don't notice it's getting infected. Poor blood flow slows down the healing process, allowing the infection to grow.
Protect Your Feet
Johnson will discuss how to properly care for your feet, including washing them in warm water every day, examining them for blisters and other sores daily, and keeping the skin moisturized, along with a number of other tips.
He will also talk about the need to keep blood sugar levels under control to protect your feet and prevent or slow diabetes-related health problems. Steps for staying healthy include:
* Follow a healthy eating plan.
* Be active a total of 30 minutes most days.
* Take your medications as directed.
* Check your blood sugar at least once a day and record the number.
* Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
* Don't smoke.
"Keeping your diabetes under control is critical," Johnson said. "That's the first step in avoiding problems with your feet."
To learn more about diabetes and your feet, register for the seminar at (800) 963-7070. To find out about other diabetes education classes, call (510) 745-6556.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit

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