COLUMBUS, Ohio – During National Diabetes Awareness Month, health professionals are trying to get the message out about a serious complication that often comes with the disease – diabetic foot ulcers, or DFUs.
Dr. Gary Gibbons, a vascular surgeon, says several things cause DFUs.
One is diabetic neuropathy, which is when the nerves in diabetics are affected by sugar and it causes loss of sensation in the foot.
Many diabetics also have circulation problems, and often wound healing is much slower in those with diabetes.
Gibbons says 29 million Americans are diagnosed as diabetic, and another 8 million have diabetes but don’t know it.
“We have another 80 million people with prediabetes who can develop the complications and foot ulcers are a significant complication,” he points out. “About 25 percent of diabetics will have some type of foot problem or ulcer during their lifetime.”
About 1.3 million Ohioans have diabetes, and another 3 million have prediabetes, which means they’re at risk of developing the disease.
Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and older men are more likely to develop foot ulcers, along with people who use insulin, or have diabetes-related kidney, eye or heart disease.
Gibbons says we can do something to prevent diabetes.
“Diabetes is actually going up about 1 percent per year,” he states. “Probably the greatest two reasons is faulty diet and lack of exercise.”
Gibbons says as soon as someone is diagnosed with diabetes, he or she should be careful because ulcers can lead to amputations and even death.
“Yes, you can exercise and you certainly can diet, but it’s really looking at your feet, taking care of your feet and realizing that foot complications are a common occurrence,” he explains.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 80,000 people every year.