Diabetes and Infection: What’s the Connection?

By Margaret Falconio-WestHot TopicsLeave a Comment

Mature Woman Doing Blood Sugar Test at home.

More than 29 million people are living with diabetes.  As we age, there is a higher incidence of diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association says more than 1 in 4 of those people is 65 years of age and over.

The numbers are alarming. But there’s another part of this condition some tend to undervalue – the connection between diabetes and infection.

 Don’t Underestimate Feet

Complications of diabetes can include foot issues, and skin and soft tissue infections. Infections that go untreated can lead to amputation or even more serious complications.  That’s why something as simple as keeping your feet warm and dry during colder seasons can help reduce the chance of fungal infections between toes.

So, where does infection come in?  Constantly high blood glucose levels contribute to, among other things, a decreased immune system.  These soaring levels can also promote bacterial growth. We also know that about 60-70 percent of those living with diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy…or loss of feeling…at some time, so you have to play very close attention to any subtle changes.

Don’t Underestimate Prevention

Diabetes education should always include the symptoms and basic information about diabetes.  The person with diabetes also needs to understand the best way to control his/her diabetes through medication, diet and exercise.  Complication can literally range anywhere from the head to the toes.  With consistent high glucose levels, the nerves, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and feet are among the more common complications.

Complications are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A person with diabetes needs to be aware of these potential complications – and focus on prevention.  Feet should be inspected every day. Reserve callus removal for doctors and never partake in “bathroom surgery.”  Make sure lab values include levels for blood glucose and A1C.

Above all, pay closer attention to the body and let a healthcare provider know if something just doesn’t feel right.

About the Author
Margaret Falconio-West

Margaret Falconio-West

After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, Margaret Falconio-West continued post graduate work at the College of St. Francis and completed her WOC education at Emory University. She holds licenses in Illinois as a registered nurse as well as an advanced practice nurse. She is board certified as full scope of practice wound, ostomy, continence nurse (CWOCN) through the WOCN Certifying Board. She has presented numerous scientific posters and papers at national symposiums and published many peer reviewed journal articles in the field of skin, wound and continence care. Falconio-West is Medline’s senior VP of clinical services, advanced wound care sales.

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