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Diabetic Foot Gangrene

Understanding The Link Between Diabetic Foot & Gangrene

September 19, 2018

When you have a foot ulcer or another problem with your feet, one complication, or problem, you may have is gangrene. Simply put, gangrene is the death of the tissue in a part of your body. It can happen when something prevents the supply of blood to an area of your body. It can also happen because of an infection in your body.

Let's talk more about how diabetes and gangrene are related.

How are gangrene and diabetes linked?

If you have Diabetes, which affects your blood, you're at a higher risk for gangrene. High blood sugar levels can:

  • Damage the nerves in your feet, which leads to numbness and loss of sensation. If you can't feel an injury, you can’t protect your feet, which means a problem can get worse.
  • Limit the blood flow to your feet. This produces fewer infection-fighting cells and makes wounds harder to heal.

Blood is a key part of your body’s health. Your blood brings oxygen and nutrients and has antibodies that fight off infections. If your blood can’t circulate, it harms your cells, supports infections, and damages or kills tissue.

What kinds of gangrene affect people with diabetes?

There are two types of gangrene that usually affect people who live with diabetes:

1) Dry Gangrene

This type of gangrene is caused by poor blood circulation. It can appear red, brown and in the final stages, black. The dying tissues will look dry and wrinkled and the affected area may also feel numb, painful, or cold.

2) Wet Gangrene

This type of gangrene occurs when there is a problem with blood supply and if an infection is left untreated. For people with diabetes, it develops with foot ulcers and can progress quickly.

How can people with diabetes prevent gangrene?

Gangrene is curable if caught in the early. It can be treated with antibiotics or debridement (removal of the damaged tissue). But if gangrene not treated, it can enter the bloodstream and lead to septic shock, a life-threatening situation when your blood pressure drops to extremely low levels.

To prevent gangrene, make sure to:

  • Check your feet daily for signs of stress
  • Control glucose levels
  • Stop smoking

If you think you may have gangrene or are worried about developing gangrene in the near future, contact your doctor immediately.

If you believe you have gangrene contact your doctor immediately. If you currently have gangrene follow your doctor’s treatment instructions. You can also limit your risk of developing gangrene. Talk with your doctor about this at your next foot exam.

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