Type 2 diabetes means your body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not taken up by the cells. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels – the main type of sugar found in blood. Stripped of this mechanism, blood sugar levels can rise inexorably, which in turn can cause a tsunami of problems.
Many of these problems are concentrated in the feet, explained Doctor Prash Vas, Consultant in Diabetes and Diabetes Food Medicine at London Bridge Hospital (part of HCA UK) to Express.co.uk.
One telltale sign that can put you at an increased risk of a foot amputation is diabetic ulcers, he warned.
“Diabetes can affect the nerves and blood vessels in our feet, thereby risking direct damage to the skin (also called diabetic foot ulcers),” Doctor Prash explained.
This is “perhaps the most dreaded complication”, he said.
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“Without swift treatment, there is a risk of infection, persistence of the ulcer and the possibility of an amputation.”
Fortunately, there is ample opportunity to turn the situation around before the emergency procedure is required.
“The changes occur very slowly with many not reporting any symptoms until it is too late,” he explained.
How to spot a diabetic ulcer
According to the NHS, a diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound or sore on the skin that’s slow to heal.
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“If you have numb feet, it’s easy to cut your foot by stepping on something sharp,” explains the NHS.
It adds: “An ulcer can also come on if you unknowingly develop a blister caused by badly fitting shoes.”
To keep foot complications at bay, it is imperative to have regular foot checks.
“People with diabetes should have their feet checked at least once a year by a doctor or healthcare professional,” explains Diabetes.co.uk.
There are two key components to blood sugar control – diet and exercise.
There is technically nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you have to limit your intake of certain foods.
Carbohydrate foods are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood sugar (glucose).
The worst culprits are:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.