Diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent here in Columbus, and everywhere around the world. The day a patient is diagnosed with diabetes can feel like a life sentence of future suffering from many serious medical issues. However, a new study offers hope to diabetics who would like to avoid a life filled with complications of diabetes, surgeries, pills and potentially deadly foot ulcers.
In this new research from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, a group of patients who have had type I diabetes for 50 or more years without any major complications were studied. To have diabetes for this long a period of time without any eye, kidney, heart or nerve problems is considered a major feat. This study group is especially impressive because at the time they were first diagnosed, many of the glucose meters and other technological and pharmaceutical advances used today to control diabetes were not available!
Were these diabetics some sort of super humans able to magically control their diabetes without any work? The answer, of course, is no. Some members of the group were found to have a gene that reduced the number of molecules called “advanced glycation end-product” or AGEs, which are created in diabetics when excess amounts of sugar, or glucose, are in their blood for long periods of time. These AGEs are what cause the nerve damage leading up to loss of sensation and eventually the diabetic foot ulcers seen and treated by podiatrists. So, while a gene reducing this molecule was helpful in preventing some of the group’s diabetic complications, the main reason found for their success in fighting diabetes was good management.
Along with managing blood glucose levels, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular foot checkups with a podiatrist should be a key part of every person with diabetes’ disease management plan. With these visits and self-exams of the foot in between visits, life-threatening ulcers, bone disease known as “Charcot foot” and other serious problems can be largely avoided. When examining your own feet, always be sure to check in between toes and on the bottoms of feet for any cuts, open wounds, or lesions. While something as simple as a blister may be harmless to most individuals, to someone with diabetes it could develop into a serious problem if it goes unnoticed. If sensation is lost in the foot and such a wound develops, the patient will not feel any pain and may continue to irritate the same area on a regular basis without noticing. A larger, more serious open wound may develop, providing a route for bacteria to easily gain access into the body and cause potentially deadly infections.
The goal I have for all of my diabetic patients is to strive to be a part of the elite group of people like those in the study who avoid any ulcers or other major complications from their diabetes. Making a dedicated effort to examine your feet and take other small measures along with regular visits to a podiatrist to keep feet healthy is definitely worth the benefit down the road of a long and healthy life!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.