It is estimated that over 30 million Americans suffer from Diabetes and the number is growing. Diabetes is a life threatening disease. Approximately 500 people die every day of complications from diabetes, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Diabetes is also the leading cause of foot and leg amputation.
Our body uses glucose (sugar) for energy. The pancreas makes insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your body’s cells. Diabetes is the breakdown of the body’s system to absorb glucose because the pancreas does not make enough insulin. This causes sugar to build up in the blood.
The most common types of diabetes are known as Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 Diabetes, the body mistakes insulin producing cells as being foreign and a danger to the body. So, the body attacks and kills insulin producing cells. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter the body’s cells. Sugar builds up in the blood, which can cause damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys and eyes. Nerve damage is also possible. Type 1 diabetes can also lead to death.
The most common form of Diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes. With this form of Diabetes, the body does produce at least some insulin, but something in the body prevents the insulin from entering the cells. This is called “Insulin Resistance”. Obesity and lack of regular exercise are thought to be major contributors to the Type 2 Diabetes epidemic.
Common complications of Diabetes are foot problems that are made worse due to the diabetes. Neuropathy, which is nerve damage, can cause tingling, pain or weakness in the foot, even to the extent of numbness. Foot calluses can form and go unnoticed because of the other symptoms of diabetes.
Calluses on your feet are layers of skin that become thick, usually caused by friction or pressure against shoes. Unlike a blister, calluses are usually not painful, so they often go untreated.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the problem for diabetics is that “callus, if not trimmed, get very thick, break down and turn into ulcers (open sores)”. This is a common problem for diabetics. Foot ulcers can become infected and can lead to amputation.
Diabetics account for 60% of foot and leg amputations in the US. And 85% of those amputations have a foot ulcer. This is preventable with proper foot care and by removing calluses.