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Foot Problems Related to Diabetes

People with diabetes who have high blood sugar levels are at risk for foot problems. High blood sugar levels:

  • Cause nerve damage and poor blood circulation, which decrease feeling in the feet. This means that you can injure your feet and not know it.
  • Decrease the body's ability to fight infection. Injuries, such as blisters or ingrown toenails, may heal more slowly and are more likely to become infected.

Foot sores (ulcers) can develop from calluses or blisters caused by friction or rubbing from wearing ill-fitting shoes. Ulcers can also develop from untreated cuts or wounds on the feet.

Foot infections can become severe and travel up the leg and into the bones, which may lead to amputation.

Other foot problems are more common in people with diabetes and can be caused by a breakdown of foot joints and bones (Charcot foot), ill-fitting shoes, or other problems.

Foot problems are usually treated by keeping blood sugar levels in a target blood sugar range and by using medicines, surgery, and other types of treatment.

All people with diabetes should check their feet regularly for problems. Regular foot exams by health professionals are important as well.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised November 2, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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