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Diabetes is an extremely serious disease that elevates your risk for medical complications and emergencies. It is also a very “quiet” disease that hides in the background, just waiting to cause problems. And all it takes to start the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill is an unnoticed and unaddressed problem — even a tiny one.
As this snowball gains momentum, it becomes much harder to stop and will eventually reach a point where it runs you over and leaves you absolutely crushed under its weight.
The last thing we want is for you to end up in a situation where a diabetic wound — which can become a dangerous diabetic foot ulcer over time — puts you in a critical situation.
Fortunately, understanding why ulcers develop, how they affect your health, and what you can do to prevent them will go a long way toward keeping you safe.
If you have diabetes and need a foot care plan, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Dr. Leibovitz can work with you to create one that makes sense for you and lowers your risk for serious issues like diabetic wounds. Contact us today for more information.
What are diabetic wounds?
Diabetes is marked by high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood stream, and every part of your body relies on blood for health and vitality.
Since it is so far-reaching, the disease compromises all your organs and body systems, including damaging your nerves, decreasing vascular supply, and neutralizing the effectiveness of your immune system’s white blood cells.
We want to bring attention to this because it is the groundwork for dangerous situations.
Let’s begin by highlighting a couple of systemic concerns:
- Diabetic neuropathy takes away your ability to be aware of cuts, scrapes, and other similar issues.
- A decrease in blood flow and weakened white blood cells prevent your body from healing and fighting off potential infections at normal levels.
- Elevated blood sugar levels have a negative effect on collagen production — which is essential for both providing strength to skin and allowing wounds to heal. (For this reason, pressure points are a common cause of diabetic foot ulcers.)
- Diminished nutritional status can also keep tissues from being able to heal.
Taking all of that into consideration, any kind of wound — meaning cuts, scrapes, blisters, ingrown toenails, and anything else out of the ordinary — can continue to exist and worsen over time.
This can lead to a larger breakdown of the skin, called an ulcer (not the stomach variety).
If your nerves function as intended and you have normal sensation, you are able to feel those kinds of problems. When you have pain, you’re probably going to protect the area, or try to resolve the issue and prevent bigger problems from developing.
If diabetic neuropathy takes away your ability to recognize problems when they develop, such issues can easily go untreated — and this is a highly concerning situation.
A key concern with untreated wounds is that they allow an open door for bacteria to enter your body. This happens because, as noted, your body simply doesn’t have the resources necessary for healing the wounds.
There is a honeymoon period of 2-4 weeks for optimal healing, then the skin wound will become dormant (making it harder to heal and requiring greater resources such as advanced wound care products).
To put it another way, the body has essentially given up at this point.