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Dougherty to focus on diabetic foot health

ALBANY, Ga. -- Poor blood flow, nerve damage and other conditions can turn minor foot problems into career-ending and sometimes life-threatening complications for diabetic patients.

Those with the disease are prone to foot problems, which can develop without their knowledge.

This is why the Dougherty County Health Department has chosen foot care for diabetics as the topic for its next monthly lecture.

"With a high incidence rate for diabetes, it's a big issue," said Alice Rodman, public health nurse specialist at the health department.

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, is a common problem.

"It can be a serious issue," Rodman said. "With neuropathy, you don't have the ability to feel pain, heat or cold. You may notice numbness or tingling."

Under such circumstances, experts say an ordinary or minor problem can become a serious complication. Sometimes, nerve damage deforms or misshapes feet. As a result, pressure points can turn into blisters, calluses, sores or ulcers.

"High heels can cause pressure ulcers," Rodman said.

Diabetes has been referred to by some experts as a blood vessel disease. Wear and tear on the blood vessels because of increased sugar levels can cause poor circulation, which, in turn, can cause neuropathy.

"In any part of the body where you have poor circulation, that area is deprived of nutrients," Rodman explained.

Poor circulation can also make injuries slow to heal. Consequently, people with diabetes are at risk for amputation of the foot or leg.

"Amputation is what we try to prevent at all costs," Rodman said.

Rodman also said, since those who have lost sensation might not know it, that it is a good idea to do a foot check each day. Avoiding open-toe shoes or walking around barefoot is also recommended.

Dr. Glenn Dowling, a podiatrist who specializes in foot care, is the scheduled speaker for the lecture -- set to take place from noon-1 p.m Friday. A question-and-answer session will also be held, followed by a lunch.

To ensure sufficient seats and meals are available, those interested in attending are encouraged to call the health department at (229) 430-6230 to register by 5 p.m. on Thursday.