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Managing diabetes well requires careful consideration of lifestyle habits, medication and monitoring, which can be a challenge for some people. If you develop problems with your feet, there’s even more to think about, from extra medical appointments to daily self-care for your feet.
Researchers from Israel were therefore concerned to find that people with diabetes-related foot ulcers may be more likely to have cognitive problems which could affect their ability to properly care for their feet.
In one of the first studies looking at this relationship, the researchers compared 99 individuals with a diabetes-related foot ulcer with a similar number of people with type 2 diabetes who didn’t have a foot ulcer. Both groups were aged between 45 and 75 years and had been diagnosed with diabetes for similar length of time. The study participants underwent a range of cognitive tests which looked at factors including memory, executive function, reaction time, attention and psychomotor abilities.
Compared to those without a foot ulcer, the people with a diabetes-related foot ulcer were found to have lower scores in all of the areas tested.
The group with ulcers also had a higher HbA1c (which reflects average blood glucose levels of the past 2-3 months) and a higher risk of other diabetes-related complications. But even when the researchers controlled for possible confounding factors including smoking, HbA1c, macrovascular (large blood vessel) disease and depression, they still saw a difference in cognitive function between the two groups.
These findings suggest that people with a diabetes-related foot ulcer may remember less, have decreased ability to concentrate, and more difficulty with learning, less inhibition, slower cognitive and psychomotor responses, and less verbal fluency. The authors suggest that this could make it more difficult for them to implement the treatment recommendations which are important for managing their foot ulcer.
The study only shows an association between diabetes-related foot ulcers and cognitive problems, and doesn’t prove that one causes the other. However, considering that they are more likely to occur together, the study authors encourage health professionals to screen individuals with diabetes-related foot complications for cognitive problems and to take cognitive abilities into consideration when planning treatment recommendations and follow-up?
So what can you do to protect your feet?
Our blog post, The why, what and how of foot care for diabetes, provides plenty of tips, but two easy things you can do to keep your feet healthy and happy is to keep them moisturised and to choose the right socks.
When it comes to moisturisers, our recommendation is DIA-BALM; Australian made and owned, DIA-BALM was designed by LaCorium Health specifically for the treatment and prevention of dry, cracked skin. It is scientifically proven and easy to use. DIA-BALM dissolves dry dead skin while helping healthy skin maintain hydration, making it more flexible and better able to keep out infections. DIA-BALM can also be used to prevent the development of dry, cracked skin as well as maintain healthy skin. You can purchase DIA-BALM from your local chemist or online.
Socks should have flat seams, no elastic tops, extra cushioning and moisture wicking fibres to keep feet cool and dry. Glucology Diabetes Copper Socks tick all these boxes but have the added benefit of Cupron®, an Australian-patented copper-based yarn which protects the feet with broad-spectrum anti-microbial efficacy and skin enhancement properties. You can find out more about our socks here.
IBD Medical (an IBD Group company) is an Australian-owned boutique pharmacy sales and distribution company. We are committed to providing innovative yet cost-effective solutions to common personal problems. We search the world for high-end quality medical & personal care products that have been proven to be effective. We then make them available to our customers in Australia at affordable prices.
Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is NOT medical advice.