Why don’t more diabetics pay attention to their feet so that sores don’t become infected before they know it?

Many diabetics must have portions of their limbs removed due to infections that have spread and killed tissue, having originated from an unchecked sore on their foot. How does this happen?

It’s not enough to explain this by saying diabetics can’t feel the sore, and hence, have no idea it’s brewing with infection.

Looking at your feet regularly means you’ll readily see developing sores that are on the top surface of your foot.

As for the bottom, holding a mirror beneath a foot will allow the diabetic to see the underside.

Though some people can’t position themselves like this and live by themselves, many others are perfectly capable of regularly checking their feet for sores, cuts and other wounds that they can’t feel.

But many just don’t do this and let things slide, so I put this question before Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with over 10 years of experience in various community and clinical settings.

“Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes can get infected sores on their feet,” affirms Massey.

“When blood glucose levels are elevated, cuts and sores heal more slowly. Keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range is one way to ensure that individuals with diabetes heal in a healthy manner just like someone without diabetes.

“Proper foot care is part of diabetes self-management which includes looking at the bottom of the feet.

“Unfortunately, some individuals who are elderly and/or overweight/obese do have some trouble examining their feet.

“It is important for individuals with diabetes to visit with a podiatrist at least once a year.”

A condition called diabetic neuropathy numbs sensation, which is why diabetics need to look at their feet frequently, including with a mirror, and if they live with someone, that person could assist.

Not all diabetics, who end up with an amputation caused by an infected foot, are elderly, obese or otherwise mobility impaired.

Alison Massey has been working in the field of nutrition since 2010 helping individuals make sustainable changes to improve their health.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/cunaplus