April 22, 2011 -- Many patients with diabetes fall short on foot care and footwear, according to a new study.
Failure to perform recommended foot care and wearing inappropriate footwear can set diabetes patients up for foot ulcers. Ulcers are painful and potentially serious. They can sometimes lead to amputation.
Most diabetes patients polled for the study said they know proper foot care and properly fitting shoes are important. But they don't always follow through, according to Stephen Ogedengbe, MD, a researcher at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital in Benin City, Nigeria.
He presented the study at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' meeting in San Diego.
''There is no such thing as perfect footwear for persons with diabetes mellitus," he tells WebMD. "However, there are shoes which can help prevent or delay the onset of foot ulceration in diabetes. There are also shoes which can cause or help accelerate the development of foot ulceration."
The study was conducted in Lagos, Nigeria. Ogedengbe and colleagues asked 41 patients with type 2 diabetes, on average about 57 years old, to answer questions about their footwear habits and foot care.
The researchers found some good news:
90% had education about footwear
83% wash and dry their feet, a practice recommended daily
51% do the recommended routine self-exams of their feet
However, about 56% told the researchers they always or occasionally walk around the house without shoes, which is not recommended. Nearly 15% did so outside, too.
Next, researchers evaluated the participants' shoes. They found 68% of the footwear to be inappropriate.
Among the shoes that didn't pass muster, Ogedengbe says, are:
Shoes with pointed tips or toes
Thong-style sandals or flip-flops
Besides inappropriate shoe styles, he tells WebMD, some wore shoes that were the wrong size.
Despite these flaws in shoe wear, 73% of the patients thought their inappropriate footwear was acceptable.
Footwear Tips for Diabetes Patients
Here are Ogedengbe's tips for finding proper footwear.
Avoid shoes with pointed toes.
Don't buy shoes with too flat a sole or high heels because they don’t allow for even distribution of foot pressure.
Look for styles that have soft insoles.
Choose leather, canvas, or suede styles to allow adequate circulation of air. Don't buy plastic or other materials that don't allow the shoe to ''breathe."
Look for such features as laces, buckles, or Velcro. These make it easier to adjust the shoe.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or 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.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.