Diabetes is among the most common underlying causes of lower extremity amputations in the U.S. This is because individuals with diabetes are particularly prone to developing foot ulcers, or open sores that are apt to become infected unless properly cared for. Diabetes patients can visit a community hospital to explore prevention resources and learn about treatment options. Working closely with a diabetes care team at the hospital can help patients prevent complications.
For best results, diabetes patients should go to the hospital as soon as possible after discovering a possible foot ulcer. Since diabetes causes nerve damage, you might not realize that you’ve sustained an injury. Check your feet regularly or ask someone to check them for signs of an injury. You may notice redness, swelling, and unusual odors. Another indicator of a diabetic foot ulcer is drainage, which may be present on your socks.
The wound care specialist at the hospital will help you learn how to prevent infections while your wound is healing. It’s critical to avoid walking barefoot. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or to treat an infection. The wound should be kept moist and covered with special dressings and topical medications.
Wound care specialists commonly recommend debridement, which is the removal of dead tissue. Debridement cleans the wound and enables it to heal more readily. It’s also important to keep weight off the foot. This is sometimes accomplished with special casts or boots. The hospital may offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which accelerates healing. Additionally, diabetics must carefully control their blood sugar levels. High blood sugar suppresses the immune system and slows healing. In severe cases, skin grafts or surgery may be required.
Memorial Hospital of Tampa provides advanced wound care to diabetics and others with slow-healing wounds. Our community hospital takes a multidisciplinary approach, giving patients all the support and treatment options they need to restore their health. Those in the South Tampa area can call our hospital at (813) 873-6400 to learn more about our wound care programs.