If you have diabetes, take special care of your feet, eyes, mouth and skin.
Nerve damage, circulation problems and infections can cause serious foot problems for diabetics. Nerve damage can deform or misshape your feet, causing pressure points that can turn into blisters, sores or ulcers. Poor circulation can make these injuries slow to heal. Sometimes it can result in a toe, foot or leg being removed. Here are some tips on how to take good care of your feet:
If you lose all or part of your vision, call your doctor right away. You should have an eye exam at least once a year by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist). You need a dilated eye exam so that the doctor can look at the back of your eye (retina). Changes in your vision caused by diabetes can be treated if detected early.
High blood sugar levels can cause problems with your teeth and gums. And like all infections, dental infections can make your blood sugar go up even higher. Sore, swollen, red gums that bleed when you brush your teeth are a sign of a dental problem called gingivitis. Another problem, called periodontitis, happens when your gums shrink or pull away from your teeth. People with diabetes are also prone to other mouth problems, like fungal infections, poor post-surgery healing, and dry mouth.
You can help maintain your oral health by keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. Tell your dentist you have diabetes. It is also important to brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush at least twice a day. Floss once a day. If you wear dentures, keep them clean, and remember you still need to see a dentist. Get a dental cleaning and exam twice a year, and be sure to call your dentist with any problems.Remember, smoking makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are age 45 or older.
If you have diabetes, it is vitally important to guard against infection. Your skin is your first line of defense. Be sure to bathe daily and wash your hands before and after eating or going to the bathroom. Tend to cuts, scrapes and sores promptly. Tell your doctor if you have any wounds or bruises that will not heal.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Basics of Diabetes, Vidant Health Inpatient Diabetes Management Team, 2012Joint Commission
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