Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are slight in the beginning so the condition goes unnoticed. However, as high blood sugar levels rage – the main threat if you have type 2 diabetes – the body can take a hammering. More acute symptoms tend to follow and these acute symptoms often surface in the feet.
“There are a number of signs that suggest that something is wrong with the feet of people living with diabetes,” explained Professor Andrew Boulton, President of the International Diabetes Federation, to Express.co.uk.
He continued: “The first is a feeling that something just isn’t quite right.”
Then, he explained, people typically report the following sensations to their doctor or diabetes specialist:
- Small electric shocks akin to needles and pins
- Burning sensation
- Freezing sensation.
What else should you look for in the feet?
Professor Boulton explained: “Other signs to look out for are dry skin, a build-up of callus on the ball of the foot and any wounds on the feet.”
According to prof Boulton, “wounds are a real concern and you should seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you find any.”
It is also important to look carefully between the toes for any cracks in the skin, he said.
“It can be difficult to examine your own feet, so use a mirror to help examine the bottoms of your feet or ask a family member or friend to help.”
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What’s more, the temperature of the foot can be a sign, noted prof Boulton.
“Does one foot seem warmer to the touch than the other?”
What causes high blood sugar levels?
If you have type 2 diabetes, it signals the pancreas 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 – the main type of sugar found in blood.
Without the regulating force of insulin, blood sugar levels are left to rise uncontrollably.
Blood sugar is not intrinsically bad – it supplies the cells with the energy it needs to function.
However, consistently high blood sugar levels can damage the body and this can result in a range of complications, such as foot problems and an increased risk of heart disease.
How to respond
The primary response to consistently high blood sugar levels is to overhaul unhealthy aspects of your lifestyle.
There are two key components to blood sugar control – diet and exercise.
“There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods,” explains the NHS.
The health body says you should:
- Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
- Keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals.
“If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week,” it adds.
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