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Thousands of Indians losing limbs to diabetes every year

Apr 07, 2016

India is at an alarming stage with over 60 million diabetics as over 40 to 70 per cent of lower limb amputations are related to this disease.

New Delhi: With a surge in lifestyle diseases becoming the talking point of health forums and policy discussions in India, diabetes, along with cardiovascular diseases and hypertension has become a daily theme of discourse.

The growing incidence of the insulin disorder, its implications and the resultant health burden are considered a major health challenge for the country in near future. However, when we talk of diabetes management, the only aspects that are focused are the need to maintain blood glucose levels, good levels of physical activity and weight control.

Unfortunately, little time and energy is devoted to driving home the point that diabetes is a major cause of amputations, and a lot of effort should be devoted to ensure that ulcers and injuries do not become gangrenous in diabetics.

An overall emphasis on maintaining feet health, remaining alert for anomalies, and using orthotic devices like the CPO manufactured Neuropathic Walking Boot, can go a long way to reduce incidence of amputations and preventing disability in diabetics.

Over 340 million people in the world suffer from diabetes. With almost 60 million diabetics, India today is home to the second largest population of diabetics in the world after China.

World Diabetes Foundation estimates that 40-70% of all lower limb amputations in the world are related to diabetes and that 85% of all diabetes related amputations begin with a foot ulcer.

Diabetes complications include nerve damage and poor blood circulation, referred to as neuropathy. This makes the feet vulnerable to ulcers that can be extremely dangerous. Many people with diabetes lose sensation in their feet and often fail to recognise skin injuries that may develop into infected ulcers. It is often difficult to treat such skin sores which in some people lead to gangrene and necessitate amputation to save life.

Rough estimates suggest that about 40,000 lower limb amputations take place in India each year, and a large number of them are due to diabetes related complications.

Along with diabetes prevention, it is hence, important to focus diabetes management mechanisms that include proper foot care. In cases when amputation cannot be avoided, efforts should be made to make the lives of the victims easier with advanced prosthetics.

It is important to emphasize that proper diabetes management and careful foot care can help prevent foot ulcers. In developing countries, a major cause of foot ulcers is unsuitable shows as well as the habit or the need to walk barefoot.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that may lead to a range of complications including disability, and early death. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps the body to convert glucose from food into energy. Diabetics basically lose control over this hormone and hence on the level of glucose in the blood.

People with diabetes either fail to produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or their bodies lose their capacity to use the insulin effectively enough so as to convert glucose to energy (type 2 diabetes). This is an irreversible condition but effective management can keep the ailment in control.

Diabetic Foot

Diabetes can cause a series of complications in the body, one of them being the diabetic foot. Neuropathy or nerve damage is a major concern that diabetologists are still struggling to diagnose early. Nerve damage leads to loss of sensation and skin injuries often go unrecognized. Of those suffering from diabetes, amputations are reported to be 15 times more common than among other people.

A non-healing ulcer that causes severe damage to tissues and bone may require surgical removal. Amputation may be minor (removal of toes of feet) or major (above or below the knee amputation of the leg).

Remedial measures

Take sores and injuries seriously: There is no way an injury or a skin sore can be ignored. If a foot sore hasn’t healed within a normal duration, immediately contact your doctor.

Extra depth footwear: These are especially designed to comfortably accommodate a foot, reduce pressure on the sole and toes and keep the feet injury free. They relieve areas of the feet that usually take excessive pressure.

Wearing therapeutic shoes and orthoses: Studies and research have suggested that long term use of show orthoses can reduce the incidence of diabetes related amputation. Such devices help reduce pressure on the foot and reduce the risk of sores or ulcers that may be the potential cause of amputation.

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