Diabetes and Poor Circulation: Are They Linked?
You probably know someone who has diabetes, or maybe you have been recently diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes is on the rise in the USA partly due to an aging and increasingly sedentary population. Most of us spend more time sitting and less time moving than we did in years past. The less we move, the more we are at risk for circulatory problems, and that risk increases if you have diabetes. Poor blood flow develops over time, and you may not realize there is a problem at first.
Circulatory Disease and Your Feet
If you have poor circulation, you may first notice symptoms in your legs and feet. They may feel tired and achy, or you may experience a burning pain. Cramps in your calves after exercise are another indication. Cold and pain in the extremities that wakes you up at night can be signs of poor circulation. You may even notice changes in the color or texture of your skin. All of these are indicators that the blood is having trouble passing through your blood vessels. You may only feel the symptoms in your legs and feet, and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.
The Underlying Cause
The clinical explanations might seem confusing, but put simply, when your body is unable to process glucose properly, it affects the blood vessels. People with diabetes show abnormalities in the endothelial cells (between the vessel walls and the flowing blood), and they may not function as they should. Excess sugar complexes build up along the vessel walls, as well as excess fat in the blood (atherosclerosis). The passages narrow and restrict blood flow. Diabetes can also cause the blood cells to become inflamed, further restricting the blood flow.
What to Do About Poor Blood Flow
Treatment for diabetic vascular disease includes close monitoring and control of your blood sugar level. Diet plays a big role, and you should watch your carbohydrate intake, balancing it with the correct amounts of protein and fat. If you have type 1 diabetes, make sure you are administering your insulin properly.
Smoking is extremely detrimental to the health of your blood vessels. If you smoke, stop. Don’t use heating pads or ice packs on your feet or legs, and avoid tight shoes or constrictive clothing of any type. Be sure to get exercise, even if leg pain means you can only take short walks at a time. The goal is to keep your blood moving as much as possible.
Podiatric Care Is an Important Part of Treatment
If you have diabetes, your legs and feet are vulnerable to injuries, and poor circulation means they will take longer to heal. At My Chicago Foot Expert, Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos will monitor the health of your feet and treat any sores promptly. Timely foot care is critical so that infection doesn’t develop placing you at risk for gangrene and amputation. We also have information about managing diabetes. If you are experiencing leg pain or notice a sore on your foot, don’t wait. Call our office in Chicago at (773) 561-8100 for an appointment, or schedule one on our website.