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Diabetes Symptoms – Anchorage Foot & Ankle

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that affects the body’s ability to move glucose from the food you eat into the cells where it is used for energy production. This is due to inability to either use or to produce insulin, or a combination of both. Insulin is a hormone which allows skeletal muscle cells and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. Without insulin, glucose cannot be removed from the blood resulting in increased blood sugar levels which can become toxic to the body and cause damage to major body and organ systems. It can even lead to death.

There are three major types of Diabetes:

In Type I Diabetes (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes) the body does not produce insulin. These patients require insulin replacement either through injections of insulin with a syringe or through an insulin pump. This type often is genetic. It is much less common than Type II Diabetes, accounting for only 5-10% of all cases of Diabetes.

In Type II Diabetes (formerly known as Adult-onset Diabetes), the body is able to make insulin, but either it does not make an adequate amount or the body simply is unable to use what is made (insulin resistance). Type II Diabetes is often seen in obese patients (more than 20% over ideal body weight), in large part because fat cells are insulin resistant and also because the pancreas simply cannot make enough insulin to maintain the body at increased mass. In some cases the pancreatic beta cells (cells that produce insulin) “burn out” and no more insulin is made.

This is the most common type of Diabetes accounting for 90-95% of all cases of Diabetes. Also, because of the increasing childhood obesity rate, this type of Diabetes is being seen more frequently in children as well as adults.

In Gestational Diabetes, diabetes develops during pregnancy. Often these women, if not closely managed during pregnancy, will give birth to large babies due to abnormal weight gain in-utero. Women with Gestational Diabetes do have a greater risk of developing Type II Diabetes post-partum. Babies born to women with Gestational Diabetes also have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Obesity, often associated with Type II Diabetes, is a pandemic, meaning that it is being seen more and more frequently in countries all over the world. With the increase in the obese population comes an increase in Diabetes Mellitus.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 26 million Americans (adults and children) have Diabetes with 1.9 million new diagnoses every year. If you live in Anchorage and you have diabetes, your feet may be at greater risk than you think.

High blood glucose negatively affects all body systems and organs, particularly the eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves, and vessels. Because of the small size of the vessels in the feet and their distance from the heart, these vessels are more prone to damage and loss of blood flow through them versus the larger vessels nearer the heart.

When the small vessels lose their ability to deliver blood and oxygen to the small nerves in the feet and toes, those nerves suffer damage and may eventually die, the result being numbness in the feet, usually starting in the toes and extending proximally (towards the body). When this happens, the ability to detect cuts or foreign bodies on the bottom of the foot is lost, increasing the risk of ulceration. Loss of blood and oxygenation to those tissues, in turn, significantly slows and even prevents those tissues from healing, increasing the risk of infection of the soft tissues and bone, which subsequently, increases the risk of amputation.

Because of the risks that diabetes poses to the feet, it is important that all diabetic patients have regular foot examinations with a podiatrist. With the difficult conditions here in Anchorage, AK, diabetes and your feet need extra care. Contact us today to make sure you are not at risk.

For more information on diabetes and its effects on the body, contact the American Diabetic Association.