High blood glucose levels as a result of diabetes can damage the nerves in your extremities over time. This is called neuropathy.
Results of Neuropathy
- Lessen your ability to feel pain, heat or cold.
- Loss of feeling may prevent you from recognizing a foot injury.
- You could get a blister and not know it. You might not notice a foot injury until it becomes infected.
- Your foot or feet could develop swelling, redness, ulcers and bleeding.
Diabetes can also cause changes in the skin of your feet:
- On occasion, your foot or feet may become very dry.
- The skin may peel or crack because the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your feet may not work.
Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. Poor circulation can make your feet less able to fight infection and to heal. This, combined with neuropathy, can lead to infections and ulcers so severe that amputation is required.
Gangrene and Amputation
Because of the poor blood flow, antibiotics cannot get to the site of the infection easily. These infections can develop into gangrene. Often, the only treatment for this is amputation of the foot or leg. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, this process can be life threatening.