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What's the connection between diabetes and wounds?

When your body has difficulty metabolizing glucose, as with diabetes, it can lead to high sugar levels. Too much sugar in the blood can affect the body's ability to heal wounds and increase the risk for infections and complications. A person who manages their diabetes well can improve the rate at which wounds heal.

How do foot wounds affect health?

Feet are a common site of non-healing wounds in diabetics, and about 25 percent of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer. A foot ulcer can begin with an injury as simple as a cut, scratch or blister. They often recur, and 40 percent of people with a healed diabetic foot ulcer will develop a new ulcer within a year.

Diabetes is the leading cause of limb loss, accounting for 65,000 amputations every year. Alarmingly, almost half of those living with an amputation will die. But there is good news: Most amputations can be prevented with early intervention and care.

What causes non-healing wounds in diabetics?

People with diabetic foot ulcers commonly have neuropathy, peripheral artery disease (PAD), or Charcot foot.

Neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves are damaged, causing weakness, numbness and pain hands and feet. PAD is caused by narrowed arteries, which reduces blood flow to the limbs. Charcot foot is a deformity that results from nerve damage in the foot or ankle, which may cause injuries to go untreated, leading to the breakdown of joints.

What can I do to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers?
  • Stop smoking immediately.
  • Have a comprehensive foot examination every time you visit your healthcare provider, at least four times a year.
  • Inspect your feet daily; have a family member help, if needed.
  • Take regular care of your feet, including cleaning and cutting toenails. Have a healthcare provider help you with corns and callouses.
  • Choose proper, supportive socks and shoes. There are specialized, non-binding socks for diabetics, which aid circulation and provide cushioning.
  • Eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis.
How can I keep my diabetes under control?

Diabetics should seek expert advice to learn the best ways to self-manage their diabetes. Holy Name's Diabetes Center, is a comprehensive education and support resource for people living with diabetes, and is accredited by the American Diabetes Association.

The Center's specialized, certified staff can advise on insulin self-administration, help you choose the best blood sugar monitoring method, and counsel you about healthy lifestyle choices. Click here for info about Holy Name's Diabetes Center.