Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Type 2 diabetes – a precursor to heart disease – often goes undiagnosed for many years because the mechanism that underpins it – high blood sugar levels – takes time to assert its destructive effects. This makes type 2 diabetes highly pernicious – when symptoms eventually show up, it may signal high blood sugar damage. It is important to routinely check your feet because they can hold clues to untreated high blood sugar levels.
As Diabetes.co.uk explains, nerve damage and reduced circulation, caused by diabetes, can mean having reduced awareness of pain (neuropathy) and slower healing.
“The soles of the feet may be awkward for some of us to check but it’s an important part of our feet so need checking each day,” the health body advises.
“You may find it helps to set up a mirror to help check the soles of your feet.”
What to look for
When checking the soles of your feet, look out for the general signs of damage and changes and also:
- Plantar warts (verrucas)
- Foot ulcers.
If left untreated, nerve damage in the foot can lead to the development of Charcot foot.
Charcot foot is a complication whereby the bones in the feet become misshapen.
As Diabetes UK explains, because of nerve damage, you’ll be able to continue walking on your affected foot without noticing any changes or feeling pain.
“But as you put pressure on your foot, the bone and joints can start to change shape,” warns the health body.
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“This can alter the shape of your entire foot and put other joints at risk.”
How to prevent Charcot foot and other foot complications
In addition to regularly checking your feet for signs of damage, keeping your blood sugar levels under control is key to staving off the risk of foot complications.
The primary treatment interventions for high blood sugar levels relate to diet and exercise.
The key component of a diabetic dietary plan is to swap unhealthy carbohydrates for healthy carbs.
All carbs are broken down into glucose so subsequently have an impact on blood sugar levels but some are broken down a lot faster, which causes a spike in blood sugar.
According to the May Clinic, healthy carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains
- Legumes, such as beans and peas
- Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
“Avoid less healthy carbohydrates, such as foods or drinks with added fats, sugars and sodium,” advises the health body.
Dietary fibre also moderates how your body digests and helps control blood sugar levels, it adds.
Foods high in fibre include:
- Legumes, such as beans and peas
- Whole grains.
In addition to eating well, exercise can help to enhance insulin sensitivity, which is key to absorbing blood sugar levels.
“Physical activity can lower your blood sugar up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin,” explains the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
“Checking your blood sugar level more often before and after exercise can help you see the benefits of activity.”
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