Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to severe outcomes like amputations. Although the medical community might distinguish between “minor” and “major” amputations, losing a limb to diabetes is a major loss no matter what.
A recent study published in Diabetes Care highlighted that minor amputations relating to diabetes have been increasing since 2009. A minor amputation is anything below the ankle – a foot or toe.
They also found that major amputations have held steady, although they are increasing in some groups. A major amputation is above the foot, generally up to the hip.
Most diabetes-related amputations occur in the lower extremities, like the legs and feet. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to nerve damage and poor blood flow – neuropathy – essentially killing the limb.
The study revealed that minor amputations are particularly pronounced among Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Indigenous Americans, rural residents, and those living in the west.
Major amputations were up among whites, Midwesterners, and rural residents. Black Americans were less likely to require minor amputations but seemed to be at higher risk for major amputation.
This likely comes down to access to care and education. People with access to information and specialists, the report claimed, do not typically see their diabetes get to the point where amputation is necessary.
A lack of funds and insurance is also a major barrier to adequate care, as are systemic issues impacting healthcare and access.
The real takeaway here is that regardless of who you are or where you live, try and do your best to keep blood sugar under control. Eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, limiting processed foods, and getting exercise can all help you accomplish this.
Access to quality food can also pose a challenge. Doing your best to seek out grocery stores that carry fresh foods is essential to good health, and taking advantage of online shopping may help those out of range from a grocery store.
Blood sugar has to get really high for an extended period to lead to an amputation. Get a handle on it to limit the likelihood of this potential reality.