November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Kind of ironic when you think that you have most of the major holidays in this time of year. The average American gains several pounds and for a diabetic and their family, this can be a very challenging time of year. Staying consistent with your eating habits, limiting the simple sugars and indulgence in alcohol can help to protect the almost 40 million diabetic feet in this country.
For many years we have seen our own patient population in Sarasota, Florida suffer ill affects of this dangerous time of year. Ulcerations, gout attacks, leg swelling all increase as the New Year begins. I know there is a lot of fear and denial about infections, ulcerations and amputations. In order to avoid these horrible complications of diabetes we need to do some simple things and apply some basic discipline.
Step 1: check your sugar frequently and keep your Hemoglobin A1C ( a lab value that your primary care doctor or endocrinologist tests to get an average of your blood sugar over a few month period) in the proper range.
Step 2: see a foot doctor at least yearly and have a neurological test (a test of feeling and sensation in your feet) and vascular test (a test of blood flow to the feet and legs) as recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
Step 3: wear comfortable, well fit shoes with protective inserts when needed. The Medicare Diabetic Shoe Bill allows for one pair of diabetic shoes with 3 pairs of inserts, annually, for those patients who are diabetic with complications and on medicare.
Step 4: check your feet every day for redness, blisters, wounds etc. If you find any of these things on your feet you need to contact your podiatrist right away and take the situation very seriously. Delaying treatment is major obstacle to healing.
This year's theme for Diabetes Awareness month is "it's a family affair." I could not agree more. I would like to extend that definition to your medical "family" as well. Diabetic patients are very complex with many issues that blur the lines of medical specialty. Often a team approach is needed to treat these complicated situations. If we all do our part we can control the disease and take care of all of our loved ones. After all, it is a family affair.
Committed to your health,
Dr. Craig Conti
Sarasota Foot Care Center