Sole Sisters: Navigating Diabetes & Happy Feet

Ladies, we all lead busy lives, juggling careers, families, and countless responsibilities. Amidst this whirlwind, it’s easy to overlook our health, particularly when it comes to conditions like diabetes. But did you know that your feet can be key indicators of your overall well-being, especially when it comes to diabetes?

Let’s explore the world of diabetes, shed light on how symptoms can manifest in your feet, and empower you with the knowledge you need to take charge of your health.

Diabetes is a pervasive health issue that affects millions of women worldwide, and the number is on the rise. According to the American Diabetes Association in 2019, 37.3 million or 11.3% of the population, had diabetes. Of that, 28.7 million were diagnosed, and 8.5 million were undiagnosed. In addition, 96 million Americans aged 18 and older had prediabetes. Diabetes doesn’t discriminate based on age, career, or family life – anyone can be at risk. However, the good news is that early screening and awareness can make all the difference in managing and even preventing diabetes-related complications.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is simply a lifelong condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin to maintain stable blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels are too high, the hormone insulin helps to lower blood sugar levels by removing glucose. It uses it as energy for your cells after that.

Did You Know?

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. 

  • Because the immune system is attacking the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body produces no insulin at all. Insulin must be taken daily by people with Type 1 diabetes to survive. 
  • The primary cause of type 2 diabetes is insufficient insulin creation, primarily affecting adults above 45 years of age. 
  • The last kind is called gestational diabetes, which exclusively affects pregnant women and disappears once the baby is born. 

Why Focus On Your feet? 

Our feet are amazing indicators of our overall health, and they often send out early warning signals when something is suspect. Understanding these signals can be your first line of defense against diabetes. Your feet carry you through life, and they deserve some extra TLC, especially when it comes to diabetes.

How Does Diabetes Affect My Feet?

Elevated blood sugar levels may adversely affect your feet’s sensation. 

This may have an impact on your circulation, which may result in your feet receiving less blood flow. Insufficient blood flow can impede the healing of injuries and sores. 

There is also the reduced sensitivity that people with diabetes experience. This is referred to as Diabetic neuropathy which happens over time, when high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves in your body. This stops essential nutrients reaching the nerves. As a result, the nerve fibres can become damaged.

This comes in four main forms: 

  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy – peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy and is damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. 
  • Diabetic sensory neuropathy – affects the nerves that carry messages of touch, temperature, pain, and other sensations from the skin, bones, and muscles to the brain.
  • Diabetic autonomic neuropathy – autonomic neuropathy is damage to the nerves that carry information to your organs and glands.
  • Diabetic motor neuropathy – motor neuropathy affects the nerves that control movement.

These are all nerves that could be damaged as a result of diabetes. This is why it is so important to take special care of your feet. 

How To Care For Your Feet

  • Every day, inspect your feet for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other changes to the skin or nails. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask a family member to assist you.
  • Wash your feet daily in warm water. Dry your feet completely to reduce the possibility of infections. 
  • Keep your feet moisturized. The skin on your feet tend to get thinner and drier with age which, if not taken care of  can cause cracking, bleeding or pain.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and socks at all times including indoors. Ensure that footwear fits comfortably, and there’s no sharp lining that could lead to injury. 
  • Get your feet checked regularly, and see your foot doctor once a year (or more frequently if you have nerve damage) for a thorough exam that includes testing for feeling and blood flow in your feet.