Maintain blood glucose control
Manage your diabetes. That means making lifestyle choices that help keep your blood sugar levels close to normal. This will promote good circulation, keep white blood cells functioning properly, and help prevent neuropathy. Good blood glucose control requires the following:
- Learning how and when to check your blood glucose level.
- Taking prescribed insulin or medicines on schedule.
- Following a sensible eating plan according to the advice of your health-care team.
- Being physically active every day (to promote good circulation and better conversion of the food you eat into energy).
Get started now
If you don’t already follow the foot-care tips included in this article, start doing them today. Set a time every day to check your feet. Print out this foot-care checklist and tape it to your bathroom or bedroom wall.
Make sure your health-care team is keeping an eye on your feet as well. The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people with diabetes have their feet examined by a health-care professional at least once a year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the coverage of biannual foot exams for people with peripheral neuropathy and loss of sensation in the feet due to diabetes. This benefit is available to those covered by Medicare Part B. For more information, talk to your doctor.
If you’d like to take more control over tracking changes in sensation in your feet, a government program called the Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention Program (LEAP) is giving out free self-testing kits. There’s no cost to you, and it’s both simple and painless. The test consists of you or someone else touching the soles of your feet at various spots with a small piece of synthetic material called a monofilament. You simply record whether or not you feel the touch. If you find you’ve lost sensation, let your doctor know right away. To get a free monofilament and instructions, contact the LEAP program at (888) ASK-HRSA (275-4772), or visit their Web site at www.hrsa.gov/leap/. (Click here for other foot-care resources.)
Lower-extremity amputations among people with diabetes are a serious problem that’s on the rise. But studies suggest that when a person with diabetes takes control of foot care, the risk of amputation is decreased by as much as half. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can significantly decrease the risk of losing a precious part of your body.