Diabetes Related Amputation: Causes and Prevention

Diabetes Related Amputation: Causes and Prevention

According to Health for Life, diabetes is the most common cause of amputations in Australia. We have the second highest rate of amputations with diabetes in the developed world.

Each year, more than 4,400 diabetes-related amputations take place in Australia. And the rate continues to increase every year.

Living with an amputation is life-changing, it affects many aspects of a person’s daily life. In addition, a person with a diabetes related amputation still needs to care for their diabetes status.

It’s important to understand diabetes and the possible ways to prevent diabetes related amputation.

Understanding diabetes

In Australia 280 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every day. That’s well over 100,000 a year. No one knows for sure what some people develop diabetes. Diabetes can develop at any time in a person’s life, and anyone can develop it.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Both diabetes types can occur at any time in a person’s life. However, type 1 diabetes usually develops when we’re still children or teenagers. Whereas type 2 diabetes is found to be more common in adults, after the age of 40.

Insulin is the natural hormone which converts sugars from the food we eat into energy. When we have type 1 diabetes, our bodies no longer produce the amounts of insulin required to do this. With type 2 diabetes our bodies become resistant to the insulin we produce.

As are result, energy in our blood sugar doesn’t get converted and our blood sugars become too high.

Diabetes Australia recommends that if you are driving with diabetes always tell your car insurer.

Managing diabetes

Diabetes causes high blood sugar (glucose). Therefore, the first step in managing diabetes is to monitor these glucose levels. When we know if glucose levels are too high or too low, we can medicate accordingly. High blood sugar levels require medicated insulin and low blood sugar requires recommended foods.

In addition to medication and diet, regular physical exercise and activity help to keep blood sugar balanced. Diabetes management requires a holistic lifestyle approach and must be planned with your doctor or medical professional.

Unless there are complications, diabetes is not an illness you can see – it’s therefore invisible. Sometimes this invisible disability is not well managed and at times goes undiagnosed. Sadly, under-managed diabetes can lead to the following complications:

  • blindness
  • kidney failure
  • nerve damage
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • hearing problems
  • skin infections
  • amputation

When you live with diabetes, it’s important to meter your diet/medication according to your blood sugar and live a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle promotes good circulation and improves the chance of wounds healing. Read our article which answers some top questions about diabetes in Australia.

Preventing diabetes related amputation through management

Diabetes affects blood flow which in turn can lead to blocked arteries and nerve damage. As a result, injuries and ordinary sores like blisters or cuts, often take longer to heal and become ulcers. Foot ulcers and are a common complication of under managed diabetes. An ordinary cut or blister on the foot can easily become infected.

Also, the tissue is more likely to die because of poor blood flow. When tissue dies, this is called gangrene, and it requires amputation.

In Australia, 10,000 people go into hospital each year because of diabetes-related foot ulcers. The result is often amputation of a toe, foot, limb or part of a limb.

Sadly, an amputation is also a wound which can lead to new bouts of gangrene. This can mean an amputated toe can result in an amputated foot or even leg.

According to Diabetes Australia, about 85% of diabetes related amputations can be prevented. This requires detecting wounds early on together with and proper medical attention and management.

Proper foot care is an essential daily requirement. The National Diabetes Services Scheme recommends the following foot care:

  • Daily foot care routine – check your feet daily. If you can’t reach your feet, try using a mirror. You can also ask for assistance from a family member or friend. Get to know your feet so that you notice any changes sooner than later.
  • Foot assessment – have your foot health assessed by a GP, CDE, practice nurse or podiatrist. They will check your blood supply and level of sensation in each foot. As a result you may be assessed as intermediate/high or low risk. In conclusion, this will help to decide how often you need a professional foot check-up.
  • Annual foot assessment – if you are assessed as low risk you should have a foot assessment once every year.
  • Quarterly foot assessment – if your feet are assessed as intermediate or high risk, schedule a foot assessment every three-six months at the very minimum. 

Signs to look out for include redness, broken skin, calluses, swelling, ingrown nails, bruising, cuts, corns or ulcers. In addition, look out for changes to the colour of nails or the shape of your foot.

If you notice any of these changes, it’s important to see a medical professional as soon as possible. Your goal is to get proper foot healthcare and reduce the risk of a diabetes related amputation.

Diabetes Related Amputation - foot health

A diabetes-related limb amputation can cost an average of $23,555. Each year after that, there’s a continued medical spend of $6,065.

In addition, mobility equipment is also costly. Wheelchairs, mobility scooters and converted cars are essential to our mobility and quality of life. Therefore, if mobility equipment, gets run down, stolen, or damaged, it can be too expensive to replace or repair.

That’s why so important to have wheelchair insurancemobility scooter insurance and car insurance. As a specialist independence and mobility insurance provider, Blue Badge Insurance offers these tailored policies. We also give up to 25% discount on premiums for disability permit parking holder car insurance. 

Contact us at Blue Badge to find out more about getting your insurance now.

One person in Australia develops diabetes every five minutes. That’s 280 new cases of diabetes a day, over 100,000 a year.  Right now, 1.2 million Australians live with diagnosed diabetes and another two million are at high risk of developing it.

We’d love to hear your story first-hand. If you have a diabetes related amputation or diabetes, share your advice via our Facebook page. You may be able to help someone who is having a similar experience.  

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