For most of us, a minor cut is no big deal. But if you have diabetes, a small cut can cause major problems. In fact, wounds that don’t heal can turn into deep infections called ulcers, especially in your feet and lower legs, and these infections significantly increase your risk of lower limb amputations.
That means if you have diabetes, you need to learn all you can about wound care. With proper care and early treatment of deep wounds, you can help prevent infections and the complications they can cause.
Dr. Allison Burkett and our team at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions use state-of-the-art methods to treat our patients’ wounds, including special techniques aimed at managing infections and preventing them from spreading. If you have diabetes, here’s what you need to know about wound management and the importance of early medical intervention.
Diabetes affects the way your body uses glucose, the sugar in your blood. Typically, it does this because your body doesn’t make enough of the hormone insulin or your body doesn’t use insulin effectively.
In turn, higher-than-normal glucose levels can damage your cells and organs, putting you at risk of vision problems, vascular problems, nerve problems, and more. High blood sugar also impedes your ability to heal.
Good healing depends on good circulation to deliver the nutrients necessary for tissue repair and regeneration. Your circulatory system also delivers white blood cells needed to battle germs that cause infections and carries away toxins that can interfere with healing.
In diabetes, your vessels can become damaged, compromising your circulation, especially in your feet and legs. High glucose cause vessel walls to thicken and stiffen and, can also increase your risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Nerve damage is common among people with diabetes, causing numbness and lack of sensation, especially in your feet. A loss of feeling means it’s much harder to tell when you’ve had a cut or another injury, which means it can take longer for you to get the care you need to prevent infection. Because you can’t feel pain, you may not realize how serious a wound or an infection is.
Plus, loss of sensation in your feet means you’re more prone to falls or stumbles. Even stubbing your toe or scraping your foot could lead to an infection that’s hard to control.
Finally, diabetes affects your immune system, making it harder for your body to identify and fight germs that can cause infections. It also ramps up your body’s inflammatory response. While a little inflammation is good for healing, too much works the other way, interfering with normal, healthy tissue healing.
Dr. Burkett has extensive experience in wound management. Her treatment begins with a thorough assessment of your wound and your medical risks, including your glucose levels and your diabetes treatment plan. Depending on the wound, she may order lab tests and cultures to determine which germs are involved.
Next, she develops a custom wound-management plan based on your specific needs with the goal of an optimal healing response. Depending on your wound and other factors, your plan may include:
In addition, Dr. Burkett and her team provide you with special instructions to help you care for your wound at home. Follow-up visits ensure your treatment plan stays on track as your needs change.
Proper wound care is always important, but if you have diabetes, it’s essential for your health and wellness. To learn more about wound care, call our office in Warner Robins, Georgia, or book an appointment online with Dr. Burkett today.