Diabetes sufferers warned to look after feet to avoid amputations

People with diabetes need to be proactive in looking after their feet as diabetes related amputations continue to rise to a four year high, Diabetes Ireland has warned.

Stating that a person with diabetes is 22 times more likely to undergo a non-traumatic lower limb amputation than an individual without diabetes, Diabetes Ireland also revealed that 63% of lower limb amputations are diabetes related, while 2,628 people with diabetes were hospitalised for foot ulcer treatment or limb loss in 2017.

Diabetes Ireland is now warning adults of all ages who have diabetes for more than five years, to ensure they have a full and proper foot assessment with a podiatrist or other appropriate healthcare professional, at least once a year.

People with diabetes have special reason to take good care of their feet. Long term high blood glucose levels may make feet susceptible to injury and infection. This is because the protective sensation in the toes or feet, the 'pain alarm system', may slowly disappear due to long term exposure to high blood glucose levels.

Recent data, obtained by Roisin Shortall TD, noted that 547 people with diabetes underwent a lower limb amputation in 2017, accounting for 63% of total amputation procedures carried out in the year. This is the highest number of diabetes related lower limb amputations carried out in a calendar year over the past four years. A further 2,081 people with diabetes were also hospitalised, requiring foot ulceration treatment, spending on average 10 days in hospital for treatment in 2017.

With numbers so high, Diabetes Ireland is now urging people with diabetes to be proactive in having an annual foot assessment which will identify any problems and allow treatment to be undertaken early, thus preventing more serious problems. People are recommended to examine their feet daily and be on the lookout for small cuts, changes in skin colour and temperature, red areas and swelling.

They are also advised to check they have continuing sensation in their feet and to be alert to signs such as prickly pain in the feet, numbness and peculiar sensations such as a feeling of walking on cotton or of wearing tight socks. This is important as without a pain alarm system, injuries and poor fitting shoes may go unnoticed.

Diabetes Ireland now has over 3,500 clients attending their preventative footcare services in Dublin and Cork. These services were set up to provide people with access to a high quality podiatry service offering a full diabetic foot screen and assessment; foot and nail care treatment and education plus callus and corn removal where necessary. A footwear assessment is also carried out, with professional shoe fitting and a choice of footwear (shoes and socks ) available at extremely competitive prices.

To book an appointment, ring 01 8428118 or 021 4274229. Further information on how best to look after your feet is available free online at https://www.diabetes.ie/living-with-diabetes/living-with-type-2/managing-diabetes/footcare/

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