Most diabetics have heard horror stories about having to have a limb amputated. You may have even had your doctor warn you that if you don’t take care of yourself, you could become an amputee.
Obviously, this is a very frightening prospect. Nonetheless, many people brush it off as nothing more than a “scare tactic” used by doctors. However, that’s actually not the case. Uncontrolled diabetes can actually lead to leg amputation and other types of amputation.
How Diabetes Can Lead to Amputation
First things first, it’s important to understand the basic amputation definition. Essentially, this is when a limb is surgically removed. Any limb can be removed, but leg removal is the most common type of amputation for diabetics.
The main reason that diabetics end up getting their legs amputated is because of a condition known as peripheral artery disease. This disease, commonly referred to as PAD, damages the blood vessels and keeps blood from flowing to the legs and feet.
Because of the reduced blood flow and subsequent nerve damage that occur, you often don’t notice if you get a wound, ulcer, or infection on the feet or legs. And, unfortunately, such wounds won’t heal as easily without proper blood flow. So, when an infection, reduced feeling, and slowed healing time combine, serious damage or death may occur to the affected body part, causing amputation to be necessary.
Tips on Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease
The main reason that diabetics develop PAD is because of uncontrolled or poorly managed blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar is allowed to get too high, damage occurs to the blood vessels, which can, over time, lead to PAD.
Obviously, then, the best way to prevent this condition is to work hard to keep your blood sugar levels within the ideal range. Remember, the longer your blood sugar stays high and the higher it stays, the greater your chances of developing PAD.
One of the main ways to control your blood sugar is to see your doctor regularly. You won’t know how your overall health is faring if you’re not regularly checking in with your doctor. Also, your doctor can provide helpful dietary and lifestyle advice specific to your health condition and your health challenges.
In addition to ensuring that you get regular medical care, you should also strive to eat a healthy diet. Ideally, you should follow a meal plan created for you by your doctor or by a nutritionist who is familiar with the needs of diabetics. If you choose to create your own meal plans, opt for smaller portions of healthy foods. These include lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and very few starches, fats, sugars, and oils.
You should also aim to get regular exercise. Just thirty minutes a day a few times a week can make a huge difference in your overall health and wellbeing. It can also help you to maintain a healthy weight, which is key in preventing against PAD and other serious secondary effects of diabetes.
Take Care of Your Feet and Legs
Whether you have PAD or not, you should take care of your feet and legs. Often, problems in these areas go unnoticed for far too long. This is why amputation has to be used instead of other treatment methods.
Fortunately, you can reduce the likelihood of this happening to you by checking your feet and legs daily. Look for any signs of illness or infection, as well as for unexplained redness, swelling, or other issues. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, see a doctor. After all, you have nothing to lose by being extra cautious.
Also, if you notice a lack of feeling in your feet, talk to your doctor. This could be the onset of PAD or other problems. You’ll likely fare better if you catch and treat these problems early on.
As a final precaution, wear clean socks each day. Ensure that there are no bands on the socks that make them too tight as this can cut off circulation. Wiggling your toes and moving your ankles and feet regularly can also help with keeping the blood flowing throughout the day.
See a Doctor About Any Common Foot Problems
As a final note, bear in mind that there are lots of foot problems that are common and non-serious to non-diabetes sufferers. Issues like athlete’s foot, corns, and ingrown toenails are no big deal to most people.
For diabetics, though, they can start a serious infection that won’t heal and that can lead to amputation. So, no matter how minor the problem may seem, see a doctor about it as soon as possible.
Doing these things can greatly help you to reduce your risk of having to undergo an amputation.