Diabetes is a condition in which too much sugar is found in the blood. It is broardly classified in to two forms, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetics lack the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for telling the cells to take the sugar out of the blood. Without Insulin the sugar builds up in the blood to dangerous levels. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the cells do not respond to the insulin, again resulting in a build up of sugar in the blood.
Elevated blood sugar inhibits the enzymes that protect the linings of the arteries and veins. This can lead to blockages of arteries which supply the feet. Poor blood supply increases the chances of severe infection and even amputation of the feet.
Elevated blood sugar can also damage the nerves leading to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. If we cannot feel pain we do not avoid things that hurt us. This can lead to blisters, ulcers, infection and possibly amputation.
Diabetics should be given annual foot inspections by a podiatrist. The podiatrist will perform tests such as a doppler ultrasound, which assesses blood flow in the feet. Monofilament and vibration tests to determine the health of the feet, as well as skin, nail and biomechanical assessment. They can then provide advice to you so that you will not suffer any serious complications from the diabetes.
People with a high risk of infection should see their podiatrist regularly for routine care of their nails, as self treatment is potentially very dangerous.