Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which the body cannot synthesise or utilise insulin properly. As a result, the body is unable to take up glucose into its cells to use as fuel, which leads to elevated glucose levels in the bloodstream. Minor cuts, burns, sores, and ulcers, especially to the feet, are a part of daily life. Healing of wounds is a complex process that majorly depends on intact nerve function and adequate blood flow to the affected area, as well as robust immunity of the body to fight off infections.
In India, foot ulcers occur in 15-25 per cent of diabetics during their lifetime, of which 50 per cent become infected, and up to 20 per cent require amputations.
Research shows a clear correlation between elevated blood glucose levels and poor wound healing. High blood glucose levels damage the nerves, causing numbing of the sensations in the area, called diabetic neuropathy. This means that people with diabetes who sustain day-to-day minor trauma to their feet might not be aware of the injury, and they may not receive prompt care, which allows the wound to worsen.
Nerve damage also leads to dry, cracked skin, which allows a convenient entry point for the infection into the body. Uncontrolled diabetes also affects circulation, causing blood to move sluggishly. With inadequate blood flow, the body becomes unable to promote the body’s ability to ward off infections and promote the healing process.
Moreover, when blood glucose levels remain constantly high, the function of the white blood cells, which are responsible for protecting your body from various infections, is impaired. Consequently, the immunity of the body is compromised, and it is less able to fight bacteria and close wounds.
Also Read:Prevent the complications of diabetic neuropathy by following this expert advice
The infection can later spread to the muscles and bones causing osteomyelitis, or it can progress to the stage of gangrene and ultimately amputation of the affected limb may be needed to halt the spread of gangrene. Sometimes, the infection spreads to the bloodstream causing sepsis, which is a dangerous condition and can be life-threatening.
Diabetes might also affect wound healing in other ways, like reducing the local production of growth and healing hormones, decreasing the production and repair of new blood vessels, and reducing collagen production.
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