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Dealing with diabetes
Diabetesis on the rise in South Africa due to a combination of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Although the condition is serious and can lead to life-threatening complications, the good news is that armed with the right knowledge, diabetics can manage their condition and avoid these complications.
Managing The Disease
Diabetescannot be cured. Once diagnosed with the disorder, it remains with you for life. However, if managed correctly, the complications of diabetes can be avoided. What it requires is that you maintain a healthy blood glucose level, normal cholesterol and blood pressure.
Over time, high blood sugar can cause serious life-threatening complications. Diabeticsare more at risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure as well as blindness and damage to nerves and blood vessels. This is known as diabetic neuropathy and leads to a number of problems that affect the skin, wounds and feet in particular.
Many diabeticssuffer from dry skin because the damaged nerves do not receive the message from the brain to moisturise the skin because high blood glucose results in the loss of body fluids causing the body to sweat less.
The feet are particularly susceptible to being injured, and since they aren’t as visible as other body parts like the hands, we tend to neglect them. Diabetic neuropathyaffects the longest nerves first, causing a loss of sensation in the feet first.
Managing your diabetes is the first step to the prevention of wounds and diabetic foot. Diabeticsshould drink extra amounts of fluid to make up for fluid loss. Wearing cotton socks is advisable as they allow the skin to breathe.
Tips For Caring For Your Feet
- Wash (do not soak) your feet every day in warm, not hot water, using a mild soap.
- Be sure to dry your feet properly, particularly between the toes.
- Check your feet daily for red or swollen patches, for cracked or damaged skin, for blisters, calluses, cuts or sores.
- Treat any wounds immediately and try to remove pressure from the wounded area as much as possible.
- Keep toenails short.
- Do not go barefoot, even at home.
- Wear socks or stockings that will protect your feet.
- Make sure you wear good-fitting shoes that provide adequate support.
- Always check your shoes for foreign or sharp objects, like stones or thorns, before putting them on.