Reflexes, blood pressure, eyesight and respiration -all are commonly checked during an annual physical exam. But often overlooked during checkups is what many call “the mirror of your health” – the feet.
The human foot often is the first to show initial signs of severe medical conditions, such as diabetes. That’s why the American Podiatric Medical Association is urging those at risk for diabetes to ask for foot exams during their regular checkups.
Diabetes affects 18 million Americans by keeping their bodies from producing or properly using insulin, which is needed to convert sugars, starches and other food into energy.
Unfortunately, many Americans – nearly 5.2 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – are unaware they’re diabetic and don’t recognize the disease’s early warning signs, which usually occur in the feet.
When it’s too late, the consequences often are severe: heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and even amputation. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic foot amputations each year.
The good news is there are ways to detect diabetes at its onset, before it does further damage.
“Early detection is paramount and something as simple as taking your shoes and socks off for a foot screening could assist in diagnosis of diabetes earlier,” said APMA President Dr. Lloyd Smith.
In fact, annual foot screenings could reduce diabetic foot amputations by as much as 85 percent, according to APMA.
Knowing foot-related diabetes warning signs also is vital in early detection. Alert a family physician or podiatrist to these signs:
* Feet feel cold to the touch from decreased blood circulation.
* Noticeable changes to the feet.