Preventing Amputation: A Guide for People with Diabetes
If not treated promptly and properly, foot problems can become major health hazards that can lead to amputation. Poor blood flow in the legs and feet, often caused by diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, is a serious risk factor but follow these best practices for proper foot and limb care and increase your chances of preventing amputation.
According to the American Diabetes Association:
- Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations in the United States, with more than 60% of those amputations occurring in people with diabetes In 2006, about 65,700 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes.
- With the loss of feeling in the legs, diabetes patients may not notice a small cut or blister until it is larger, deeper and infected. And poor blood flow to the area may stop oxygen from getting to the wound and helping it heal properly.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), proper foot care education, treatment and preventative therapy can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%.
Preventing amputation requires some particular care for your feet and limbs and improvement of your over circulatory health.
1. Take good care of your feet
- Check your feet every day, looking for cuts, sores, red spots, blisters or swelling
- Wash your feet daily, keeping them clean, soft and smooth
- Trim your toenails carefully after washing
- Always wear well fitting shoes and socks
- Do not remove calluses or lesions yourself. See a doctor immediately
- Do not go barefoot, even around the house
2. Consult your doctor or foot specialist regularly
You should see your doctor or podiatrist at least once per year. These medical professionals should check for early signs of nerve damage, poor circulation or other foot problems. If you notice any foot wound or problem, tell your doctor right away. The longer you wait, the greater the risks.
3. Following your Prescribed Diabetes Treatment
Treating diabetes and preventing amputation requires patients to be diligent about self-treatment.
- Closely follow your prescribed medication
- Educate yourself about glucose control and follow healthy practices for managing your glucose levels
- If your doctor has prescribed any medications for venous insufficiency, be sure to follow the regimen closely
4. Maintain Healthy Circulatory Practices
- Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water will flush salt from your body. Each day, you need about 2 litres of water to stay fully hydrated.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking can lead to peripheral artery disease. If you have poor circulation stopping smoking is critical way to regain leg health.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol makes the veins swell. Too much alcohol can cause permanent damage resulting in spider veins.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight — Your body weight has a direct impact on your circulation. When you are overweight, there is increased pressure on legs and feet. Work with your doctor or a nutritionist to determine a proper, calorie-limited diet that will help you maintain a healthy bodyweight.
- Stay Active – Maintain an active exercise regime to keep blood flowing
Preventing Amputation: The Stakes are High
Diabetes can lead to some serious health consequences, including lower limb amputation. Sadly, amputation is more common than we think. Recent estimates say that around the world a limb is amputated every 30 seconds.
The good news is there are steps you can take towards preventing amputation. Proper foot treatment techniques can keep your blood flowing and keep you healthy.
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