Diabetes sufferers may have many negative health effects, and foot problems are among the issues that affect this population. Conditions like nerve damage (also called neuropathy), skin changes, calluses, foot ulcers and poor circulation can lead to a host of other health complications and even result in amputation of the leg or foot. Ensuring proper foot health is essential in effectively managing diabetes.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, almost everyone knows someone with diabetes. In the United States, approximately 25 million adults and children suffer from diabetes. Most of these individuals (18 million of them) are aware that they have the disease; however, about six million people have yet to be diagnosed.

Put simply, diabetes is a disorder of the metabolism, which is the way the body uses food for growth and energy. Diabetics produce little to no insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas), or don't respond well to the insulin that is produced by the pancreas. As a result, the body has difficulty retaining its fuel.

Simple daily foot care can prevent serious problems. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, the following 10 steps will help prevent serious complications from diabetes:

10 Ways to Be Good to Your Feet

1. Take care of your diabetes; work with a healthcare team to monitor blood glucose levels.
2. Check your feet every day; look for red spots, cuts, swelling and/or blisters.
3. Keep blood flowing to your feet: exercise and be active!
4. Don't smoke; smoking affects small blood vessels and can cause decreased blood flow to the feet.
5. Ask your doctor about orthopedic shoes to improve circulation in your feet.
6. Wash your feet every day and dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
7. Keep your skin soft and smooth; use lotion to keep your feet moisturized.
8. Keep toenails trimmed and filed.
9. Wear comfortable shoes and socks at all times and try to never walk barefoot.
10. Remember to schedule annual comprehensive foot exams with your podiatrist.

People with diabetes should work with their healthcare providers and support network of family and friends to take steps to control the disease. Ensuring proper foot health means lowering the risk of complications and helps to ensure one can live a happy, healthy and active life.

For more information about Diabetes Foot Health, visit:

American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/index.aspx