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November is Diabetes Awareness Month

About 29 million Americans have diabetes and another 80 million are at risk. (Virginia Carter)
About 29 million Americans have diabetes and another 80 million are at risk. (Virginia Carter)
November 7, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and health professionals are trying to get the message out about diabetic foot ulcers, a serious complication that often accompanies the disease.

Vascular surgeon Dr. Gary Gibbons said DFVs are the result of a number of factors. One factor is diabetic neuropathy: when nerves are affected by sugar causing a loss of sensation in the foot. Many diabetics also have circulation problems. It can also take much longer for wounds to heal in those with diabetes.

Gibbons said 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and another 8 million are diabetic but don't know it.

"We have another 80 million people with pre-diabetes who can develop the complications, and foot ulcers are a significant complication,” Gibbons said. "About 25 percent of diabetics will have some type of foot problem or ulcer during their lifetime."

Anyone with diabetes can develop an ulcer, Gibbons said, but some are more at risk than others. Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and older men are more likely to develop DFUs, along with those who use insulin, or have diabetes-related kidney, eye or heart disease.

Gibbons said that diabetes can be preventable.

"Diabetes is actually going up about one percent per year,” he said. "Probably the two greatest reasons is faulty diet and lack of exercise."

Gibbons said that those who have been diagnosed with diabetes need to be vigilant, because ulcers can lead to amputations and even death.

"Yes, you can exercise and you certainly can diet,” he said. “But it's really looking at your feet and taking care of your feet and realizing that foot complications are a common occurrence."

According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 80,000 people every year.

More information on living with diabedes is available here.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN