With one in ten people in Louisiana living with diabetes, there is no doubt we are in the southern region of the "Diabetes Belt."
While diabetes is a treatable condition, it can bring a range of complications if not monitored closely and one starts at your feet.
CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital registered nurse, Erica Roach, is on foot patrol at the Wound Care Center. With each poke, she is making sure her diabetic patients can feel sensations in their feet before wounds develop. "They usually notice blood on the floor before they know they have a wound," said Roach.
Foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Tyson Green, sees the effects of neuropathy or nerve damage, that keeps patients from feeling the pain. "They won't have a lot of feeling in their feet, so a lot of times we'll have ulcerations, blisters, different areas of friction that they might not know about until they have a full blown wound," he said.
Those wounds are the result of out of whack blood sugar levels. Teresa Goree helps diabetics through St. Pat's with the Diabetes Management Center. She says high blood sugar levels are to blame for nerve damage. "High blood sugar levels actually damage blood vessels, so when blood vessels are damaged, your blood can't get to certain areas of the body," she said.
Ingrown toenails, stumped toes, calloused and corn formations can all create major problems for diabetics if left untreated. That is where hyperbaric oxygen chambers come into play. "It delivers 100 percent oxygen into the chamber, which infiltrates their body with oxygen and that helps to heal wounds," said Roach.
Prevention is the sticking point for diabetics to avoid these hard-to-heal wounds "Looking at your feet on a daily basis and making sure that we don't have any areas of redness or sores, even ingrown toenails can lead to disaster for diabetics," said Dr. Green.
Those check-ups can keep diabetics from life-altering complications, like amputations if the wound is too advanced. "For those people that do lose a limb, 60 percent of those patients lose the second leg within five years," said Roach.
Serious consequences - that can be avoided with a little extra attention.
If you want to have your feet checked out by the pros, register for a free foot screening Tuesday, March 27th at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital by calling 491-7577. Spots are limited! @
Copyright KPLC 2012. All Rights Reserved.