Most of us could use a head-to-toe checkup now and then. For people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, however, it is important to get a head and toe checkup at least once a year.
Nearly 26 million people in this country have diabetes, according to the latest statistics from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). For them, eyes and feet can be potential trouble spots.
The ADA recommends an eye exam and a foot exam by a medical professional each year. Diabetes can cause eye problems that could lead to blindness if left untreated. And when diabetes causes poor circulation and nerve problems in the feet, sufferers can develop wounds that are difficult to heal.
Eye to eye
Diabetes is a leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults ages 20 to 74. The ADA recommends that people with type 1 diabetes have a dilated and comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist within five years of diagnosis of diabetes, and people with type 2 diabetes should have this exam shortly after their diagnosis. People with diabetes should continue with routine eye exams every year.
Loss of vision can result from a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, in which the delicate blood vessels in the back of the eye swell and bleed.
During the eye exam, an ophthalmologist can look into each eye and check along the inner back wall for damage.
On your feet
The ADA says the risk for ulcers or amputations increases in people who have had diabetes more than 10 years. The risk is also higher for men. It increases for people who don't have good control of their blood sugar and for those with heart and blood vessel disease, eye, or kidney complications.
Diabetes can decrease blood flow and damage nerves in the feet. Common scrapes and bumps of everyday life can end up causing serious problems such as tissue death, if the wounds do not heal properly. The decrease in blood flow also affects the healing process. This can lead to infection and, in the worst cases, amputation.
Follow these healthy "footsteps":
Check daily for calluses, cuts, or cracks in the skin and look for signs of infection, like redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge.
Use a mirror, if necessary, to look at the bottoms of your feet.
Keep feet clean. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. They dry out skin.
Be careful when soaking feet in hot water. Nerve damage decreases sensitivity to temperature. You could accidentally burn yourself.
Do not go barefoot outdoors. Indoors, wear slippers or sandals if you don't want to wear shoes.
Make sure all footwear fits properly. Wear soft, thick socks with no seams. Seams can rub the skin and cause blisters.
Do not cut calluses yourself. See your doctor, who also can check for ingrown toenails and other potential problems.
Have a comprehensive foot exam by your doctor every year.
The ADA and the American Podiatric Medical Association recommend that you call or see your health care provider if you have cuts or breaks in the skin, have an ingrown nail, if your foot changes color or shape, or if it becomes less sensitive. See your health care provider immediately if you detect a new sore or if your foot becomes swollen, red, or painful.
What Do You Really Know About Diabetes?Nearly 26 million Americans ...Diabetes Quiz ►
Gemfibrozil Oral tablet
Colestipol Hydrochloride Oral suspension
Colesevelam Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Cholestyramine Powder for Oral suspension
Niacin (Vitamin B3) Oral tablet
Lisinopril Oral tablet
Fenofibric Acid Oral capsule
Repaglinide, Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Fenofibrate, Micronized Oral capsule
Psyllium Chewable bar
Calcium Carbonate, Psyllium Oral capsule
Psyllium Oral capsule
Rosiglitazone Maleate, Glimepiride Oral tablet
Propranolol Hydrochloride Oral capsule, extended-release
Metoprolol Succinate Oral tablet, extended-release
Niacinamide Oral tablet
Pioglitazone Hydrochloride, Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Exenatide Solution for injection
Pramlintide Acetate Solution for injection
Insulin Detemir (Recombinant) Solution for injection
Insulin Glargine Solution for injection
Insulin Suspension Isophane (NPH) (Recombinant) Suspension for injection
Insulin Glulisine Solution for injection
Insulin Lispro, Insulin Lispro Protamine (NPL) Suspension for injection
Insulin Suspension for injection
Insulin Aspart (Recombinant) Solution for injection
Insulin Regular (Recombinant) Solution for injection
Ezetimibe, Simvastatin Oral tablet
Amlodipine Besylate, Atorvastatin Calcium Oral tablet
Metformin Hydrochloride Oral solution
Ezetimibe Oral tablet
Glipizide, Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Rosiglitazone Maleate, Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Lovastatin Oral tablet, extended-release
Fenofibrate Oral capsule
Glipizide Oral tablet, extended-release
Rosuvastatin Calcium Oral tablet
Timolol Maleate Oral tablet
Propranolol Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Propranolol Hydrochloride Oral solution
Propranolol Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Metoprolol Tartrate Solution for injection
Metoprolol Tartrate Oral tablet
Atenolol Solution for injection
Atenolol Oral tablet
Linseed Oral solution
Rosiglitazone Maleate Oral tablet
Pioglitazone Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Tolbutamide Oral tablet
Tolazamide Oral tablet
Glyburide, Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Glipizide Oral tablet
Glimepiride Oral tablet
Chlorpropamide Oral tablet
Miglitol Oral tablet
Acarbose Oral tablet
Repaglinide Oral tablet
Nateglinide Oral tablet
Metformin Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Tirofiban Hydrochloride Solution for injection
Eptifibatide Solution for injection
Ticlopidine Hydrochloride Oral tablet
Clopidogrel Bisulfate Oral tablet
Bivalirudin Solution for injection
Enoxaparin Sodium (Porcine) Solution for injection
Dalteparin Sodium (Porcine) Solution for injection
Psyllium Oral suspension
Becaplermin Topical gel
Urokinase Solution for injection
Tenecteplase Solution for injection
Reteplase (Recombinant) Solution for injection
Alteplase Solution for injection
Simvastatin Oral tablet
Niacin (Vitamin B3), Lovastatin Modified-release tablet
Lovastatin Oral tablet
Fluvastatin Sodium Oral tablet, extended-release
Fluvastatin Sodium Oral capsule
Atorvastatin Calcium Oral tablet