Type 2 diabetes describes what happens when the secretion of insulin in the body is severely curtailed. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar – the main type of sugar in blood. Left to its own devices, blood sugars levels continue to rise, which can unleash an array of destructive effects.
Many of the most acute effects stem from nerve damage to the extremities, namely the feet.
When high blood sugar levels cause nerve damage in the feet – a complication called peripheral neuropathy – it can cause numbness.
This symptom can have disastrous consequences for when your feet are submerged in hot water, warns the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
“Your feet may not be able to feel heat properly and it is easy for you to burn them with hot water,” warns the ADA.
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Other signs of peripheral neuropathy include:
- A burning or sharp pain, usually in the feet
- Feeling pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch
- Loss of balance or coordination caused by less ability to tell the position of the feet or hands.
How to prevent foot problems
In most cases, serious foot problems can be prevented.
“You can do this by checking your feet yourself every day, and having a foot check at least once a year that’s arranged by your GP practice,” explains Diabetes UK.
According to the health body, everyone with diabetes should have an annual foot check, so make sure you get yours – even if you’ve been referred to a foot specialist or clinic.
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“They will check your feet but also tell you your level of risk of foot problems.”
In the long run, it is vital to keep blood sugar levels under control to stave off foot complications.
There are two key components to blood sugar control – a healthy diet and keeping active.
There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
Carbs that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
High GI foods include:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
They include some fruit and vegetables, pulses and wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
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