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Online learning resources for diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and nutrition.
Diabetes 101: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels, and your diet.
Diabetes 201: Learn more about diabetes, managing your blood sugars, and your diet.
Asthma 101: Learn more about asthma and dealing with shortness of breath.
Hypertension 101: Learn more about hypertension and managing your blood pressure.
Nutrition 101: Learn more about improving your nutrition and diet

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Lesson #5

Foot Problems

What are they?
Foot problems are a common result of diabetic nerve damage, or neuropathy. When the nerves of the feet are damaged, sensitivity decreases. A person with diabetic neuropathy may not realize that s/he has stepped on a nail or scratched a toe and may not give the injury the necessary attention.

Not only might people with diabetes incur more injuries, but these injuries may also take longer to heal. Vascular problems may reduce circulation to the injured area, slowing down the clotting and healing process. If a wound is exposed for too long, it may become infected and develop ulcers or gangrene. In some extreme cases, bypass surgery or amputation may be necessary.

How can you prevent them?
There are some warning signs to watch for — these foot problems often trigger a tingling or numbness in the feet and legs. Cramping, aches, pain and fatigue of the feet and legs may also indicate the onset of diabetic foot problems.

Aside from keeping tight glucose levels, the best way to prevent these complications is to pay careful attention to your feet. Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day and check them for any injuries. If you notice any foot injuries, be sure to apply bandages and antiseptic.

Have someone clip your toenails for you. If a person with neuropathy of the foot trims his or her own nails, s/he might accidentally cut to the skin without realizing.

Exercise can increase circulation to your feet, but if you are doing any rigorous moving around, be sure to wear protective footwear. Avoiding tobacco smoke can also reduce your risk of foot problems.

Check out our video lesson on diabetic foot care

Gum and Teeth Problems

What are they?
Your pearly whites may be at risk if your diabetes is not well controlled. People with diabetes are at higher risk for periodontitis, a disease in which the gums recede away from the teeth. This leaves small pockets for infections to form. These infections can affect and weaken the bone that holds the teeth, and lead to tooth loss.

There are several reasons why people with diabetes are at risk for periodontitis. First, vascular problems may reduce the flow of blood to the gums. Because of this, small infections can grow without interference from the natural defenses that are contained in the blood.

High glucose levels can lead to a high sugar content in the saliva. Germs and fungus thrive off of this sugar and speed up the development of gum disease.

How can you prevent them?
It's sounds like simple advice, but brushing and flossing are the best ways to take care of your teeth and gums. Make regular visits to your dentist, and be sure to tell him/her that you have diabetes. You might want to put your dentist in touch with your doctor so the two of them can discuss your treatment.

And, of course, be sure to keep your glucose levels tight.

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