Understanding The Link Between Diabetes and Wound Care
By James Calder, Director of social marketing, Wound Care Advantage
Families, patients, and medical staff new to the world of wound care often don’t understand the link between diabetes and wound healing or the added risks for patients with diabetes. November was diabetes awareness month and to celebrate, our creative team at Wound Care Advantage (WCA) focused on spreading awareness.
I spoke with WCA’s director of education Melissa Bailey to shed some light on this topic for patients and their families.
The Dangers Of Non-Healing Wounds
It is very important for diabetic patients to understand the dangers of non-healing wounds and how it relates to their diabetes. “Overtime, elevated blood sugar levels wreak havoc on the circulatory system of patients with diabetes,” Bailey said. “Acting almost like small shards of glass, glucose (among other things) slowly eats away at the nerve endings, especially in the feet of someone with diabetes.”
Diabetic patients have wounds that are slower to heal. “Many patients with diabetes are suffering from neuro-ischemia,” she said. “This means that both neuropathy (lack of sensation or feeling) and ischemia (poor blood flow) are working against the healing process. Neuro-ischemia, in addition to the negative effects that diabetes can have on someone’s circulatory system, create wounds that stall in the healing process.”
A Focus On Lower Extremities
When one first hears the term wound, they think of a simple scrape or cut that tends to heal quickly. A wound on someone with diabetes, however, can be much more serious. To be proactive, diabetics and their families really need to focus on the lower legs and feet.
“A patient with diabetes is most likely to develop a non-healing wound on their lower extremities, particularly their feet,” Bailey said.
When a patient visits their primary care physician for a checkup it is very important to take off their shoes and socks before the doctor comes in.
“A patient with diabetes cannot expect their body to register pain in their feet because oftentimes neuropathy has robbed them of this ability,” she said. “For example, if a patient with diabetes has a small pebble in their shoe, instead of the body registering the discomfort and signaling the brain, the pain goes unnoticed and they continue to put body pressure on the pebble, slowly embedding it into the skin layers of the foot. Patients with diabetes need a second set of eyes to look at every inch of their feet.”
Family Support And Resources
Family members and friends of diabetics can help by supporting their loved ones as they try to manage and live with their disease. “The best way to avoid non-healing wounds is to follow a good diabetes management plan,” Bailey said. “Keep your blood sugar at a normal level, follow an exercise and nutrition plan recommended by your physician, and try to keep your weight within normal limits.”
Organizations like the American Diabetes Association are a great resource.
“Diabetes can seem like an all-consuming disease,” Bailey said. “It’s important to get the help and support that both patients and family members need to manage the disease as best as possible to live a healthy and full life. Whether you have diabetes or know someone who does, supporting organizations like the American Diabetes Association will help get the care and educational resources into the hands of those who need it most.”
This post was originally published on MedCity News
About the author
James Calder is director of social marketing at Wound Care Advantage. He was named Top Voices on LinkedIn in 2015, and the number two voice in healthcare from more than 2 million bloggers on the platform.
James is the creator of the Seinfeld Birthday Project, which went internationally viral, received more than 1 million YouTube views, and was featured in hundreds of newspapers, blogs, TV shows and radio programs.
James is an executive board member at the Save A Leg Save A Life Foundation.James can be contacted at jim@theWCA.com