Diabetics: Keep your Feet Fit for Travel3 min read
As a diabetic, you know that it takes constant vigilance to manage the disease. Because of that, you spend a little more time planning before traveling to ensure you stay healthy and keep your diabetes under control. You know that changes in your meals, physical activity and time zones can all have an impact the way you manage the disease.
A question you need to ask yourself if you’re diabetic and traveling: Are you ready to walk?
If you’ve dealt with the disease for many years, you may have issues with your feet. Those issues don’t even have to be major – you might have some mild nerve damage or extra calluses on your feet. But those issues can make walking more complicated during your trip, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking.
Diabetics face two problems with their feet. The first is nerve damage – high blood sugar over an extended period of time can impair the nerves in your toes and feet. This nerve damage can impair sensation, putting you at risk of cuts or other injuries to your feet.
The second issue is impaired circulation. There is a reduced blood flow to your feet due to narrowed blood vessels. The result of this issue is slow wound healing – a cut or sore will take longer to repair itself since less blood is flowing through the foot.
If you’re planning on traveling, here’s what you can do to protect your feet and keep them healthy, despite those issues.
Make sure your shoes fit well
Shoes that rub your feet even slightly or don’t fit quite right can cause blisters. If you can’t feel those blisters, they can turn into sores and become infected. Check your feet when you take your shoes off to look for any signs of redness or irritation before your trip. If they cause even slight irritation walking a short distance, imagine what could happen during a walking tour in your destination? Try swapping them out for a better fitting pair or wearing them with thicker, more supportive socks.
Visit your podiatrist
Before jetting off, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist. If you have any nerve pain or if nerve damage has caused muscles to weaken, your podiatrist can fit you with orthotics to insert into your shoes for extra support. Your podiatrist can also treat any bunions, corns or a hammertoe to help your shoes fit more comfortably.
Don’t go barefoot
If you’re traveling somewhere complete with a pool or beach, beware of walking around barefoot. Walking around barefoot with numbness in your feet puts you at risk of stepping on something and causing an injury or cut, leaving you prone to an infection. Always wear sandals if you’re by a pool or at a beach. And make sure you always wear socks with your shoes to avoid any skin irritations or blisters.
Wash and check your feet every day
Even though you’re on vacation, it’s still crucial to maintain the health of your feet by thoroughly washing and drying them each day – doing this lowers your risk of infection. When you’re washing your feet, look at them carefully for any blisters, red spots, swelling, cuts or infections you might not feel. Make sure you pack your nail clippers and a file to keep your toe nails short and not sharp to prevent ingrown toenails.
Control your blood sugar
This is something you need to control your diabetes, but doing so also prevents nerve damage or further damage.
You rely on your feet to get around, especially when it comes to traveling and seeing all the world has to offer. You give your feet TLC every day at home – maintaining that healthy regimen on vacation will ensure your feet and diabetes won’t slow you down.
Photo from Escape Hunter.