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Tips for...Prevention of diabetic foot problems

By Foot health with Leana

We are concerned... a number of diabetics have been coming to the clinic, unaware of the basics regarding foot care. Most depend on the occasional doctor's visit for advice and or care.

Surely your family doctor has a wealth of experience in health care; however, there are areas out of their realm that need to be addressed, especially as a diabetic.

The specialists you should visit occasionally, or as required, are: a neurologist (nerves), nephrologist (kidney), vascular surgeon, ophthalmologist (eyes), diabetologist, cardiovascular practitioner, dietician, orthopaedic surgeon, physiotherapist and a podiatrist/chiropodist/foot health practitioner.

They form the core team of health care professionals who can help, depending on the problem that arises. Of necessity, the approach has to be holistic. Here are some important foot-care tips:

Go for an annual foot exam

The initial signs of nerve damage may be subtle. So have your doctor conduct a thorough foot exam and check for loss of sensation at least once a year. Tell your doctor right away if you experience temporary numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles sensation, sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness or loss of balance or coordination. Symptoms are often worse at night.

Control your blood sugar

Over time, high blood sugar levels can harm the tiny blood vessels that nourish nerves. Tight blood glucose control, on the other hand, can reduce the risk of diabetic nerve damage and prevent it from worsening, if it occurs. Ask your doctor what your target haemoglobin A1C reading should be, and get advice on keeping it within a healthy range.

Maintain healthy cholesterol

and blood pressure levels

Aim for a blood pressure reading below 140/80 mm Hg, and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL. Not only will your heart health be protected, but you may keep neuropathy from getting worse.

Wear the right footwear

Choose shoes that are flexible enough to walk in, but would also provide support and cushioning. You'll want to avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose, because they can cause nerve compression or blisters. Men, socks matter, too. Choose socks that fit well and wick away moisture. Before putting on your shoes, make sure they are in good condition and look for small pebbles, gravel or any other items that could cause a cut or sore.

Break in new shoes carefully

To prevent blisters, don't wear new shoes for an extended length of time until they have been broken in properly. Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes; even when just trying them on. Avoid wearing tight socks since they can cut off circulation to your feet.

Check your feet every day

Take off your shoes and socks and carefully inspect all surfaces of your feet, including in between toes. Look for small cuts, blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails and any potential signs of infection. You may not feel anything, so it's important to check your feet. To further protect your feet, avoid walking barefooted indoors or out, and test the temperature of bath water with your hands to avoid burning your feet.

If you can't see, use a

mirror to check your feet

Can't examine your feet thoroughly due to problems with flexibility or mobility, for example? Ask for help from a family member, or use a hand-held mirror to check those hard-to-see spots.

Dry your feet thoroughly

Use a soft towel to gently blot your feet dry after showering. Avoid rubbing, which can damage your skin and don't forget to dry the spaces between your toes.

Moisturise your feet

Apply a thin layer of foot cream or lotion to the top and bottom of each foot after drying. Avoid putting lotion between your toes, where excess moisture can contribute to infection.

Trim your toenails as needed

Cut your toenails after washing and drying your feet—when your feet are clean, and your nails are soft. Don't trim your toenails too short; but carefully straight across, without curving in at the edges, to help prevent ingrown toenails. If you have trouble trimming your toenails or experience extreme numbness, ask a family member for help; or have them done by a health-care professional or a pedicurist trained in dealing with diabetics.

Treat foot problems immediately

Perform first-aid on all cuts or blisters, no matter how small. And check daily to make sure the wound is healing. Visit your doctor if wounds do not heal quickly or you injure your foot seriously.

Follow these tips to ensure a healthier you. Your feet mirror your general health... cherish them.

—Leana Huntley is an English-trained

foot health practitioner attached to

ALMAWI Ltd—The Holistic Clinic.

Call 662-1732 for an appointment

or e-mail lhuntley@almawiclinic.com

Tuesday to Saturday. Check for the

clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.

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