Diabetes is becoming a very big problem in the United States.  Adults and children alike are being diagnosed with diabetes and often encounter complications of this disease before even learning they have high blood sugars.  Careful understanding of Diabetes,  The Diabetic Foot and the common complications of diabetes can help you continue your active lifestyle without limitations.

Different Presentations of Diabetes?

Protecting The Diabetic Foot

Diabetic Neuropathy - Numbness, tingling, burning or even electrical shocks caused by nerve malfunction in the feet and legs.

Peripheral Arterial Disease - Decreased blood flow to the legs and feet

Foot Ulcers and Infections


Diabetes, What Is It?

Earlier this month, I was helping coach a girl's soccer team and was pleased to see each of these young ladies keeping active and healthy. In an affluent society, where automation is king and the "internet" generation is often seen sitting in front of computers, television screens, or even mobile phones texting their friends, exercise is an important part of remaining healthy. As lives are extended through newer medical technologies and advancements, all ages have a need for activity to improve health. Inactivity at any age leads to poor health and new presentations of diseases. Heart disease was once a disease of old age, but now even the young are dying from this disease.

Of the diseases commonly encountered in our fast food society, diabetes is becoming increasingly prevalent and the associated problems (or complications) it causes are having a great affect on society as a whole. In fact, nearly 24 million children and adults have this disease in the United States, or approximately 8% of the population has diabetes. Of this group, approximately one quarter (5.7 million people) are undiagnosed and are unaware that they have the disease. With the associated risks with diabetes, it is important that more people understand this disease and its diagnosis.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn't produce or properly utilize insulin. Insulin is a hormone utilized by the body to stimulate cells to use sugars, starches and other foods as energy for regular bodily functions. If insulin is poorly produced or poorly utilized, these foods are not converted into the necessary energy, and the sugars continue to circulate in the blood stream. This leads to high blood sugar.

Diabetes is caused by a culmination of many different factors, although insulin abnormalities (either production or use) cause the diabetic symptoms. Of the causes being studied, genetics (family influence) and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise play important roles. Since the exact cause of diabetes is still poorly understood, health professionals continue to research how to prevent and possibly cure diabetes.

The current recommendations for the diagnosis of diabetes are as follows (per the American Diabetes Association):

- In order to determine if a patient has diabetes or pre-diabetes, a health care provider conducts either a Fasting Plasma Glucose test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Either test can be used, but the FPG test is easier, faster and usually less expensive to perform.

- Pre-Diabetes can be diagnosed with: FPG - a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl, OGTT - a two hour blood glucose level between 140 and 199 mg/dl.

- Diabetes can be diagnosed: FPG - a fasting blood glucose level at 126 mg/dl or higher, OGTT - a two hour blood glucose level at 200 mg/dl or higher.

So, if you are not diabetic and have not been tested recently, consider asking you health care provider to run either the FPG or OGTT to rule out diabetes (especially if you have family members with diabetes).

Understanding this disease will help you not only manage your "blood suger" but also limit the complications that can be associated with diabetes. The medical knowledge is progressing, but in the meantime, it will help each diabetic (new or old) manage their disease and reduce the risks of complications.

Brandt R Gibson, DPM
Connect with me
Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute