If you have diabetes, your body functions differently than those without diabetes. Insulin production may be limited or not happen at all, which can result in the need for frequent blood sugar testing and artificial insulin. It can also lead to slower and less effective wound healing. Proper wound care and management are crucial for people with diabetes, as untreated wounds can progress quickly into infections that may require surgery, foot ulcers, or even amputation.
- Chronic Inflammation in Diabetics When wounds heal, the second stage involves inflammation. However, this stage can take too long for diabetic wounds, resulting in a chronic wound that lasts for six months or longer.
- Elevated Blood Sugar Levels Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is critical for diabetics, as high levels can interfere with immune system function, nutrient and oxygen delivery, and increase inflammation. All of these can impede efficient wound healing.
- Diabetic Neuropathy High blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage throughout the body, leading to tingling and numbness in the limbs. This can make it difficult to notice injuries, which can lead to new wounds and complications in overall healing. Diabetic neuropathy often affects the feet and legs.
Additional Tip: People with diabetic neuropathy should wear properly fitting shoes and avoid activities that can cause ulcers.
- Circulation Problems Diabetics often have poor circulation due to narrowed blood vessels, which can lead to poor circulation conditions like peripheral vascular disease. This can result in slower tissue development and wound healing due to reduced oxygen in the body.
- Poor Immune System Function High blood sugar levels reduce red and white blood cell function, reducing the delivery of nutrients to wound sites to fight infections. Certain hormones produced in the diabetic body can make the immune system less effective, further impeding wound healing.
Additional Tip: Wearing white socks can help diabetics notice any blood or pus from injuries and alert them to cuts, blisters, or other types of wounds.
- Increased Risk of Infection Diabetic patients have a slower movement of white blood cells than the average person, which can lead to more inflammation in wounds. When combined with numbness from neuropathy, wounds can become worse and increase the risk of infections, such as gangrene, sepsis, and osteomyelitis. Diabetic ulcers are the leading cause of limb amputations each year.
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