Diabetes affects 26 million people each year. Chances are, if you don’t have diabetes, you know someone close to you that has been affected by it. Diabetes can be managed, but knowing you’re suffering is the first step. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly diabetes is and symptoms you should be looking out for.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body isn’t to produce or adequately make use of insulin. Insulin is vital to convert starch, sugar, and other food sources into usable energy. This leads to heightened blood sugar, and if it isn’t treated, it can lead to problems with your kidneys, heart, nerves, and more.

Symptoms

Many of the first diabetes warning signs can be spotted on or around the feet. Some of the most common symptoms affecting these areas include:

  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Dry and cracked heels
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Open sores that struggle to heal

There are many other potential symptoms, and some people have no signs at all until it’s too late. If you feel that you may be suffering, contact your physician right away.

Treatment

There is no cure for diabetes, but there are treatment options. Some individuals may be able to control their diabetes with proper diet, exercise, and monitoring. More severe cases may require medical intervention with insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. It’s important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your physician to avoid painful and harmful issues with your feet, ankles, and internal organs.

Diabetic Foot Care

Properly caring for your feet and ankles should be a daily priority if you have diabetes. Start by inspecting your feet each day. Be on the lookout for bruises, sores, cuts, or other sudden changes. Socks that contain seams could irritate the skin and cause blistering or breakage. Instead, opt for soft and seamless socks. Regular walking and exercise will help improve circulation to your feet and promote a healthy weight. Patients of a higher BMI with poor circulation are more prone to foot related problems. Protect your feet at all times by never walking around barefoot, even indoors. If you do suffer from a cut, bruise, or blister, visit a podiatrist right away. Callouses and ingrown toenails should be removed in a medical setting, not at home. Failure to treat an infected or wounded area on foot can lead to severe infection in a diabetic individual.