15% of diabetics experience serious foot infections.
A large number of these patients are middle aged and are the primary breadwinners.
How diabetic foot infections occur
Lack of sensation(Neuropathy), reduced circulation(vascular disease) and the smallest deformity. When these three factors are present, a small injury can increase within hours to cause loss of limb or life.
DO NOT use antibiotics without medical supervision. All wounds and injuries do not need antibiotics and misuse of antibiotics without proper advice and lack of compliance on your part may lead to an infection which does not respond at all to antibiotics(resistance may develop)
Diabetic foot infections can be classified into 3 different categories for simplicity :
- Non limb threatening- these are the only ones which can be treated on an out patient basis.
This is an example of cellulitis(skin infection) of the toe.
- Limb Threatening – These infections need hospitalization and may require surgical intervention. Patients may present simply with high blood sugars and no other signs like fever etc. An infection where there is an ulcer which is deeper than the subcutaneous fat layer of the skin, or then the circulation of the foot is reduced, such an infection is a limb threatening infection and needs admission and advanced management.
- Life Threatening – These infections lead to multiple complications including septicaemia(blood stream infection), multiple organ failure (kidney failure, heart failure etc) due to massive stress on the body and many other complications. The thing to understand is that these patients need intensive care, may require urgent surgery and other interventions to try and save life.
To sum up:
1. In case of the smallest injury or infection, seek medical attention at the earliest
2. Do not use antibiotics without medical supervision
3. Do not put pressure on the affected part
4. If you have foot deformity, ask for customized footwear