Diabetes can be complex and potentially dangerous. Not only can it affect your blood sugar, but it can also negatively affect your circulation. This, in turn, can leave you with nerve damage and diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can present some unique challenges for diabetes patients. Your doctor can help you treat this disease, but if you want to improve your chances of maintaining your quality of life, you need to properly self-care for diabetic neuropathy at home. We here at HPFY can give you 10 tips for self-care of your diabetic neuropathy, so visit us for all your diabetes care needs.
Diabetes can present a multitude of negative health ramifications. Blood sugar levels that are high for too long can cause problems such as heart/blood vessel diseases, eye damage and blindness, kidney disease, and skin problems such as infections, ulcers, and even poor wound healing. Another complication of diabetes is neuropathy. This is nerve damage due to diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy typically affects the lower extremities, such as the legs and feet. High blood sugar (glucose) is the culprit, and it can damage the nerves in your legs and feet.
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy
According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, the cause of diabetic neuropathy is unknown, but researchers believe that uncontrolled glucose levels in the blood damage your nerves over time and hinder your ability to send signals. Also, elevated blood sugar levels weaken the walls of small blood vessels that supply your nerves with oxygen and nutrients, mostly affecting your lower legs and feet.
Since our feet take the brunt of the damage from diabetic neuropathy, it is critically important for diabetics to care for their feet properly. This can start with identifying risk factors that include:
Diabetic neuropathy can affect anyone who has diabetes. If not properly cared for, this can lead to serious complications. Some of these complications, but not all, are:
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, and the goal of treatment is to slow progression, relieve pain, and restore function. Fortunately, there are ways you can achieve this. Besides eating healthy, you should:
Be sure to check your feet daily for any signs of irritation or a developing wound. Be diligent in inspecting the top, bottom, and sides of your foot. If you notice any redness, swelling, cuts, or cracks consult with your doctor at the earliest. Go for an annual foot checkup to be on the safer side.
Wearing shoes that fit properly can help prevent blisters or other small wounds that can become larger. Look for diabetic inserts or shoes. These will help your feet stay comfortable and improve blood circulation to prevent swelling and foot pain.
Exercising and being active helps with circulation, and this can offset some of the negative effects of damaged nerves and circulation due to diabetes.
Use a mixture of 2 cups of crushed ice and 1 cup of cold water in a resealable bag and massage for 5-10 minutes. Use a thin sock or blanket between your skin and the ice. You can also use ankle or foot cold packs. These help you improve blood circulation and keep the skin soothed.
Dry feet are prone to brittleness and cracking; therefore, to avoid potential skin breakdowns and diabetic ulcers, make sure to use a good moisturizer for your dry feet. A diabetic lotion containing ingredients such as dimethicone, allantoin, urea, or ceramide can help keep the skin moisturized, promote new cell generation, and reduce itching. At HPFY, you can find a variety of diabetic lotions to choose from.
Soak your feet in hot water for 2-4 minutes, then in cold water for 2-4 minutes. Repeat this three times for pain management and swelling.
A TENS device uses mild electrical pulses that may help block pain signals from reaching the brain or stimulate the production of endorphins, which is your body's natural pain killer. At HPFY, you can find an array of electrotherapy products, including TENS units for diabetic neuropathy.
Opt for socks that are made of cotton or a moisture-wicking material that doesn’t have tight bands or thick seams.
Trim your toenails straight across to minimize the risk of ingrown toenails and potential infection.
The American Diabetes Association recommends blood sugar levels for diabetics of:
The effects of diabetic neuropathy on our feet can be debilitating and lead to serious complications down the road. As the saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense” can be applied to the self-care of diabetic neuropathy. With a little foresight and compliance with a self-care program at home, we can hopefully avoid or minimize the effects of diabetic neuropathy on us. Please feel free to visit HPFY for all your diabetic neuropathy self-care needs. Stay on the front foot (yes, pun intended) and be proactive in your diabetic neuropathy self-care!!
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
In 2006, ...
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