Type 2 diabetes: Four serious foot problems that signal blood sugar damage to nerves

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes often lies dormant for many years because the underlying mechanism that drives it – poor insulin production – takes time to rear its ugly head. Insulin is a hormone that keeps blood sugar levels within a healthy range. If blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood – is left unregulated, it soars to dangerous levels. When this happens, it starts to inflict damage on the body – this damage comes to represent the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic neuropathy is an umbrella term for the nerve damage caused by consistently high blood sugar levels.

Peripheral neuropathy – the most common type of diabetic neuropathy – often affects the feet first, explains the Mayo Clinic.

“Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are often worse at night,” warns the health body.

Serious foot problems can include:

  • Ulcers
  • Infections
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain.

 

However, in most cases, serious foot problems can be prevented.

“You can do this by checking your feet yourself every day, and having a foot check at least once a year that’s arranged by your GP practice,” explains Diabetes UK.

As the health body notes, everyone with diabetes should have an annual foot check, so make sure you get yours – even if you’ve been referred to a foot specialist or clinic.

“They will check your feet but also tell you your level of risk of foot problems.”

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It also paramount to respond to the general symptoms of type 2 diabetes in order to receive a diagnosis.

Unfortunately, many people have type 2 diabetes without realising.

“This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell,” explains the NHS.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

In addition to symptoms, you should also see a GP if you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes, advises the NHS.

Following a formal diagnosis, your GP will usually recommend changing aspects of your lifestyle to bring blood sugar levels under control, notes the health body.

There are two key components of blood sugar control – diet and exercise.

“Diabetes won’t stop you from enjoying your food, but knowing some simple hacks and swaps will help you choose healthier options and make planning your meals a little easier,” explains Diabetes UK.

The health body recommends starting your day off with the following:

  • A bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk
  • Two slices of wholegrain toast with olive oil-based spread
  • A pot of natural unsweetened yogurt and fruit
  • Two slices of avocado with a hardboiled egg.

Many of the above recommendations have a more modest impact on blood sugar levels because they rank low on the glycaemic index (GI).

The GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates.

Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.

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