Diabetes is an extremely serious disease which elevates your risk for medical complications and emergencies. 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 wherein a diabetic wound—which can become a dangerous diabetic foot ulcer over time—puts you in a critical situation. Fortunately, knowing why ulcers develop, how they can affect your health, and what you can do about them will go a long way towards keeping you safe!
What are diabetic wounds?
To answer this question, let’s start with the simple fact that diabetes affects the entire body.
That probably makes sense. After all:
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 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 start with noting all of that because those issues lay the groundwork for dangerous situations.
In just a moment, we’ll explore how this all becomes such a major problem, but let’s begin by highlighting a couple of systemic concerns:
- Diabetic neuropathy takes away your ability to be aware of cuts, scrapes, and other such issues.
- A weakened blood flow and neutralized white blood cells prevent your body from healing in a normal manner and being able to fight off potential infections.
- 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.)
Taking all of that into consideration, any kind of wound—which can mean cuts, scrapes, blisters, ingrown toenails, and anything out of the ordinary (whether from internal or external origin)—can continue to exist and worsen over time.
See, if your nerves function as intended and you have normal sensation, you are able to feel those kinds of problems. When you do, you’re quite likely to provide some kind of care to resolve the issue and prevent bigger problems from developing (such as by using antibiotic ointment on a cut, for example).
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 keep the door open for microorganisms to enter your body. This happens because your body simply doesn’t have the resources necessary for healing the wounds (on account of restricted blood flow and a compromised immune system), and they become completely dormant somewhere between 2-4 weeks.
To put it another way, the body has essentially given up at this point.
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