Diabetic Foot Infections
Arthritis in the Foot
One potential problem that diabetic patients may encounter is infection. The more that you know about this potential problem, the greater the chances are that you can avoid complications, or at least detect them before they become serious.
Diabetic patients are at high risk for infection for a number of reasons. The immune system of the diabetic patient may not function as well as in non-diabetic patients, especially if the blood sugar is consistently above 250. Circulation problems, if present, may also impair the fight against infection. In fact, infection in the presence of poor circulation (sometimes even apparently normal circulation) greatly increases the chances of gangrene. Almost all amputations in diabetic patients are the result of infection and gangrene. Regardless, at the root of the problem is a break in the skin. The skin is a fantastic barrier against bacteria. If the skin remains intact, no infection develops.
The greatest risk factor in diabetic foot infections, however, is the loss of protective sensation. Once sensation is lost, the skin can become injured without the patient feeling any pain. As already stated, the break in the skin is like opening Pandora’s Box. The loss of sensation in diabetic patients is one more disastrous step in promoting serious infection. The patient is likely to be unaware of the skin break, prolonging the time period during which the area goes untreated. Once the infection develops, the patient still feels no pain, and often continues to walk on the infected foot, delaying treatment even further. Walking on the infection compounds the problem, and spreads the infection deeper and over a wider area.
If you have any breaks in the skin, whether from an ulceration, ingrown toenail, recent cut or scrape, callus or corn treatment, blister, heel crack, or surgery, you must be observant for signs of infection.
If you think you have an Infection
Preventing an Infection
Prevention of infection, or at least serious infections and gangrene, may be possible by adhering to the following recommendations: