Diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar (glucose) levels in your body are too high. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with the condition every year.
The disease can cause serious health problems, including heart attack or stroke, blindness, problems during pregnancy, and kidney failure. Wounds also are a common concern for people who are diabetic.
“Patients with diabetes and are more prone to infection – and poor healing – because their elevated glucose levels can trigger an abnormally high white blood cell count,” explains Board Certified Wound Care Physician Michael J. Lacqua, M.D.
Doctors spanning an array of specialties commonly refer patients with diabetes to Dr. Lacqua for wound care, including physicians in disciplines such as Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Vascular Surgery, Endocrinology, and Podiatry.
“Once a wound develops, it’s best to treat these patients quickly and aggressively,” advises Dr. Lacqua, who also is a hand and plastic/reconstructive surgeon.
Many patients with wounds related to diabetes have “plantar” ulcers, which are sores located on the sole, or planter surface, of the foot.
To prevent, or minimize, the likelihood of plantar ulcers – and reduce the possibility of a serious infection and potential amputation, Dr. Lacqua recommends diabetic patients and their families keep the following five facts in mind:
- Diabetic foot wounds result from pressure caused by ill-fitting footwear and changes in the foot from diabetic neuropathy, a peripheral nerve disorder.
- The most common types of diabetic neuropathy result in problems with sensation in the feet. Over time, this can damage your nerves or blood vessels.
- Nerve damage from diabetes can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a cut, a blister or a sore. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers and infections. Serious cases may even lead to amputation.
- Damage to the blood vessels can also mean that your feet do not get enough blood and oxygen, making it harder for your foot to heal from a sore or infection.
- Diabetic foot wounds are some of the slowest wounds to heal, but a combination of glucose control through a good diet, appropriate wound care, and pressure relief (called “off-loading”) with a variety of specialty boots and splints often does the trick.
If you have diabetes, you can help avoid foot problems. First, control your blood sugar levels. Also, foot hygiene and professional medical monitoring are crucial:
- Frequently visit a podiatrist for foot care.
- Check your feet every day.
- Wash your feet every day.
- Keep the skin soft and smooth.
- Smooth corns and calluses gently.
- If you can see, reach, and feel your feet, trim your toenails regularly. If you cannot, ask a foot doctor (podiatrist) to trim them for you.
- Be sure your footwear is appropriate and well-fitting.
- Always wear shoes and socks.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet.
SOURCES: womenshealth.gov; MedlinePlus; NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; American Diabetes Association
ABOUT THE PRACTICE OF MICHAEL J. LACQUA, M.D.
Staten Island-based Michael J. Lacqua, M.D., is a preeminent plastic/reconstructive surgeon, hand surgeon and board certified wound care expert. Dr. Lacqua’s practice administers experienced, round-the-clock plastic surgery response to hand injuries and injuries requiring stitches – throughout Staten Island and the Southwest corridor of Brooklyn.
Treatment and surgical procedures following an accident are performed in either of Dr. Lacqua’s two offices (Staten Island, or Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), or at a local hospital.
Helping diminish the financial angst of those dealing with a sudden injury, the surgical practice works in tandem with patients and their insurance companies with a goal of providing optimum care with little or no out-of-pocket expense to the patient.
CONTACT DR. LACQUA
24-Hour Telephone: 718-761-3700
Dr. Lacqua’s offices are located at:
- 2372 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314
- 9602 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
On the Web: www.drmichaeljlacqua.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrLacqua (@drlacqua)