Mayo Clinic Health Library Article
Home / Mayo Clinic Health Library Article Click Here for photos & videos of Bay Area Hospital Diabetes: Are electric blankets off-limits? Diabetes: Are electric blankets off-limits? Electric blankets are generally discouraged if you have diabetes. QWhy are electric blankets discouraged for people who have diabetes? What''s the danger? Diabetes has many possible complications, including nerve damage (neuropathy). Over time, excess blood sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish the nerves. This can cause tingling or numbness that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and over a period of months or years gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, it''s possible to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. If you have any degree of nerve damage, you may not be able to sense if an electric blanket or heating pad is too hot which can lead to inadvertent burns. The same issue applies to water temperature when bathing. If you have diabetes and would like to use an electric blanket, warm up your bed with the blanket before bedtime then turn the blanket off or remove it from the bed before you climb in. Continue reading >>
Caring For Diabetes-related Nerve Disorders (neuropathy)
What is diabetic neuropathy? Some diseases consume the body like wildfire. Others are more like a slow burn. Diabetes is a malady that takes its time. If not controlled, diabetes slowly eats away at the body's cells, especially nerve cells. Doctors call the gradual breakdown of nerve cells "neuropathy." At first, nobody misses a few dead cells here and there. But after a decade or two, the damage can be impossible to ignore. Many patients suffer numbness or the opposite, extreme pain. As a result of decreased sensation, many people with diabetes may not be aware when they've broken the skin or suffered a cut or scrape on one of their feet. Bacteria can then set up housekeeping -- an invasion aided by impaired circulation and small vessel disease caused by diabetes. In some cases, these unnoticed infections can lead to raging infections and loss of the limb. Despite many recent advances in diabetes treatment, neuropathy remains frighteningly common. About 60 to 70 percent of people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes will eventually develop nerve damage, though not all of them will have symptoms. But if you have diabetes, remember this: the key to avoiding nerve damage is prevention. By carefully controlling your blood sugar, you can help keep your nerve cells out of harm's way. What causes diabetic neuropathy? When people with diabetes experience pain, tingling, numbness or other sensory symptoms, typically in the feet, high blood sugar seems to be the real culprit. In general, nerve cells only start dying when blood sugar stays too high over a long period of time. Nobody knows why extra sugar is so toxic. Perhaps it upsets the chemical balance in the nerves. Or perhaps the sugar slows down blood circulation and cuts off the oxygen supply to the nervous system. Expert Continue reading >>
Why Not Leave Heating Pad On Sore Muscle ?
Why Not Leave Heating Pad on Sore Muscle ? Why Not Leave Heating Pad on Sore Muscle ? Should you or shouldnt you use heating pads on sore muscles? What about a soak in a hot tub? Or taking a nice, steaming shower? Whether or not you find relief in heat therapy depends on the cause of muscle soreness. If the soreness is caused by an acute injury, its definitely recommended NOT to use a heating pad. Just because a heating pad may feel good on sore muscles does not mean it is always the right solution. It could actually lead to more pain later on if it is not the appropriate treatment. Sometimes COLD therapy is the better and safer option. This is because heat opens up blood vessels in the affected area, which increases blood flow. If the area is already swollen, or in the process of swelling, due to an injury, increased blood flow is the opposite of what you would want. Using heat therapy on an inflamed area will only make the inflammation worse. If inflammation is causing the soreness, leaving a heating pad on the area will only increase and prolong the pain. It will also slow down the healing process. So, what are heating pads actually for? Heat is typically recommended for that chronic soreness and stiffness that just wont go away, and isnt actually caused by an injury. If there is stiffness, rather than swelling, heat therapy is recommended. However, even if heat does help you, you still should not use it for too long. Leaving a wrap or pad on for a prolonged period could result in a burn. It needs to be used carefully to ensure safety. Heating therapy products all come with instructions. Read them carefully and follow them. While not common, its still possible to sustain first, second, or even third degree burns if you leave a heating pad on sore muscles for too lon Continue reading >>
Diabetes And Cold Feet: Prevention And Treatment Tips
Do you sometimes feel as though your feet are in the Arctic while the rest of you is in the Bahamas? The cold feet phenomenon is one of those strange side effects of diabetes that can definitely affect your quality of life. Understanding what causes it and how to treat it can go a long way toward making you more comfortable. What causes cold feet? For some, the thought of walking down the aisle causes cold feet; for those with diabetes, the issue isn't as quaint. "In most cases of patients with diabetes that complain of 'cold feet', it can be attributed to one of two causes, vascular insufficiency or diabetic neuropathy," said Gary F. Stones, DPM, President of the New York State Podiatric Medical Association. "I have found in my experience that it is often the latter, but may have a component of small vessel disease often seen in diabetics." Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, sometimes known as DPN, is one of the most common underlying problems that leads to cold feet. It can also lead to tingling, burning, sharp pains or cramps, sensitivity to touch or numbness of the feet. You feet might seem warm to the touch, but they feel cold to you. The symptoms might be much worse at night. Though it can be tempting to simply dunk your feet in warm or hot water, that's the last thing you should do. "Never soak your feet in hot water," Dr. Stones cautioned. "This can lead to thermal injury and in some cases have disastrous consequences, especially in someone with DPN and underlying vascular insufficiency." You should also avoid heating pads or hot water bottles, as these can cause burns. These home remedies might help you overcome the annoying feeling of ice-cold feet: Wear warm socks and shoes most of the time. Always wear warm socks to bed. Invest in an electric blanket and turn i Continue reading >>
Tips For Using Heat And Ice
Both heat and ice can be great tools for treating pain, but they also carry risks. Here are some guidelines for using them safely: • Always put layers of fabric between your skin and the source of heat or cold. Doubled-up towels work well. • Monitor the temperature of your heat source, and do not use water, wax, or a heating pad that is hotter than 100°F. Temperatures over 120°F can cause dangerous burns. • Monitor your skin. When you have nerve damage, your sensation may not be as keen as it used to be. Rather than relying on your sense of touch to tell you if something is too hot or too cold, check your skin every few minutes for signs of irritation. You can expect your skin to be uniformly pink under the heat or ice. If your skin is red or patchy, you need more layers. • Do not put heat or ice on open wounds. This can irritate the wound, which may compromise healing. • Limit heat and icing sessions to 10 minutes at a time. Any longer than that really isn’t necessary and may cause skin irritation. • Never, ever sleep while using a plug-in heating pad. Disclaimer Statements: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information. Continue reading >>
Foot care As a person with diabetes, it is important for you to care for your feet properly every day. If you have nerve damage, known as neuropathy, you may not feel pain if you injure your feet. Because of this an infection can develop without warning. Decreased blood circulation slows healing. This can result in foot ulcers, which can eventually lead to amputation of the feet and or legs. Prevent foot injuries by wearing shoes that fit well and have good support. Don't walk barefoot. Check your shoes before putting them on for small pebbles, worn areas, or rough spots. Avoid sandals, pointed toes, high heels and plastic shoes. Always wear socks in your shoes. Socks are better if they do not have seams or mended areas. It is important to check your feet every evening for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, or infected toenails. If you have any of these problems and they do not heal within 24 hours, it is important to contact your healthcare provider. If you have trouble seeing the bottom of your feet, try using a mirror. Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot by using a thermometer or your elbow. If you use a thermometer, between 90 and 95 degree Fahrenheit - or between 32 and 35 degrees Celsius - is safe. Water that is too hot can damage the skin. Do not soak your feet as they can become dry and cracked causing infection. Be sure to dry your feet well, using a patting rather than a rubbing motion. Be careful to dry between your toes and use talcum powder or cornstarch to keep the skin between your toes dry. Apply lotion to the top and bottom of your feet to keep them soft. Do not apply lotion between the toes as this can cause the area to become too moist. Thick or hardened skin on the toes and bottom of the feet, called corns and ca Continue reading >>
How Shiatsu Therapy May Benefit People With Diabetes
In Japanese, Shiatsu means “finger pressure,” and there is evidence that using Shiatsu massage with a doctor’s approval as a complimentary approach to conventional treatment for those with diabetes may help to lower blood sugars 1. Current research is lacking in randomized, placebo-controlled studies, but suggests that shiatsu may decrease pain (painful menstrual cycles, lower back and labor pain), decrease post-operative nausea and vomiting, and improve sleep in elderly in long term facilities2. In addition, it may decrease symptoms of neuropathy in diabetics3. Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork- an alternative medicine that uses fingers, thumbs, feet, palms, or various devices to apply pressure to the body. From traditional Chinese medicine, “meridians,” or channel networks are believed to provide the path for the life energy known as “Qi.” The massage therapist may use techniques of assisted stretching, joint manipulation and mobility. Before a Shiatsu session, the patient will be asked some general wellness and medical questions. Sessions take place at floor level or on a table, clothed or unclothed, based on the patient’s comfort level. “Meridians” are treated using gentle thumb, finger, elbow or knee pressure (acupressure). Sometimes where the flow may seem weak, deep thumb pressure is applied; in other areas where there is a build-up of “Qi”, shaking, chopping, or rubbing is used. The practitioner will gently manipulate and ease joints before moving onto treating specific meridians and acupoints (acupuncture points where acupressure is applied). Joints are also gently pulled and stretched to release energy (Qi). Throughout the treatment, the therapist listens to the movement of energy, sensing it through their fingers and the responses Continue reading >>
Can You Use Epsom Salts If You Have Diabetes?
If you have diabetes, you should be aware of foot damage as a potential complication. Foot damage is often caused by poor circulation and nerve damage. Both of these conditions can be caused by high blood sugar levels over time. Taking good care of your feet can help lower your risk of foot damage. Although some people soak their feet in Epsom salt baths, this home remedy isn’t recommended for people with diabetes. Soaking your feet may raise your risk of foot problems. Talk to your doctor before soaking your feet in Epsom salts. Epsom salt is also called magnesium sulphate. It’s a mineral compound that’s sometimes used as a home remedy for sore muscles, bruises, and splinters. In some cases, people add Epsom salt to baths or tubs to soak in. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath. Soaking your feet may actually increase your risk of foot problems. It’s recommended that you wash your feet every day, but you shouldn’t soak them. Soaking can dry out your skin. This can cause cracks to form and lead to infections. Some people may recommend Epsom salts as a magnesium supplement. Instead, you should look for magnesium supplements designed for oral use. Check the vitamin and supplement aisle at your local pharmacy. People with diabetes often have low levels of magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in your body. Research suggests that oral magnesium supplements may help improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels in some people with diabetes. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, avoid using Epsom salt footbaths. If you’re interested in oral magnesium supplements, ask your doctor for more information. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks of taking them. They can also recommend a Continue reading >>
Dry Heating Pads Vs Moist Heating Pads - What's The Difference?
Dry Heat vs Moist Heating Pads - What's the Difference? There are many questions when trying to relieve pain. Should you a use cold or hot pack? Should I use dry heat or moist heat therapy? And for how long? If you didn't know, thermal heat therapy is very beneficial for treating chronic lower back pain and stiff muscles. Heat therapy products are often used in place of surgery and other pain treatments. However, the pain can actually worsen if used incorrectly. There are many different types of heating pad products such as heating gel packs, thermal heating pads , wraps, heating towels, electric heating pads , ointments, and more. But when do you know which hot pack to use? Its very important to know the difference. IMPORTANT: When Heat Therapy Is Not an Option Please note that heat should not be used in certain circumstances. For example, if you have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, or diabetes, heat should not be used. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you have heart disease or hypertension. Heat application is also not suitable for open wounds or if you have Peripheral vascular disease, or severe cognitive impairment. Here are some more instances when not to use a heating pad: Any part of the skin that is red and inflamed You can find different types of dry heat therapy products such as electric heating pads, bean and rice bags. Dry heat products are popular because they heat up quickly, can be less of a mess, and the heat tends to longer than moist heat packs. The downside is that dry heat therapy draws moisture out of the skin . This can dehydrate your skin causing dryness and irritation. Can last longer than moist heat heating pads Some people feel that dry heat is the easiest to apply Moist heat therapy products are more likely to be recommended by expe Continue reading >>
Controlling Neuropathic Pain
Tips From an Occupational Therapist I am an occupational therapist. In my line of work, I see many clients with neuropathic pain stemming from diabetes. I have never experienced neuropathy myself, but I know from working with my clients that it is often an unrelenting, terrible kind of pain. The burning, the pins and needles, the stabbing sensations, the numbness — peripheral neuropathy is hard to live with and can also be hard to treat. The causes of peripheral neuropathy (neuropathy affecting the legs, feet, arms, or hands) are not well understood, although it is clear that the condition can have a number of triggers, including physical trauma, infections, and toxins. In people with diabetes, neuropathy is usually the result of elevated blood glucose levels, which in many cases leads to permanent nerve damage. However, many people with diabetes find that improving their blood glucose control — especially if their blood glucose far exceeds recommended levels — can lead to a reduction or even elimination of neuropathy symptoms. In part because of the unknowns surrounding the physical mechanisms of neuropathy pain, conventional drug treatments can be hit or miss when it comes to getting relief. You may have to be zonked out on pain medicine to get any substantial effect, and even then you may still feel pain. It can be hard to find the balance between pain relief and quality of life. However, we therapists have a few techniques up our sleeves for “tricking” the nervous system into perceiving less pain. As a disclaimer, everyone responds differently to each of these techniques. You may have to try several approaches before you find one that works for you. The word “works” also carries some ambiguity, since none of these approaches is a cure-all for neuropath Continue reading >>
Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet. To avoid serious foot problems, follow these prevention tips: Inspect your feet daily. Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, bleeding or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet (if your eyesight is poor, ask someone to check your feet for you). Call our office to schedule an appointment if you notice any unusual symptoms. Wash your feet in lukewarm water. Keep your feet clean by washing them daily in lukewarm, not hot, water. If you have numbness in your toes or feet, test the water temperature withyour elbow. Cut nails carefully and straight across. Dont cut nails too short since this could cause ingrown toenails. Also, file nail edges. Never trim corns or calluses. Dont perform bathroom surgerylet your foot and ankle surgeon do the job. Dont use sharp instruments to cut at anything on your feet. Even small cuts can lead to big problems. Moisturize your feet. Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. However, dont use moisturizer between your toes, as this could lead to fungal infection. Wear socks to bed. If your feet get cold at night, wear thin socks without tight elastic bands. Never use a heating pad or a hot water bottle to keep your feet warm in bed. Cold feet can be a sign of poor circulationbring this up with your physician. Keep your feet warm and dry. Dont get your feet wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in the winter and also make sure your footwear is dry before putting it on. Shake out your shoes and boots before wearing. You may not always feel something in your shoe, so be sure to look inside before putting them on. Do this several times a day in case you pick something up inside your shoe during the day. We can help you prevent d Continue reading >>
Diabetes: Are Electric Blankets Off-limits?
Why are electric blankets discouraged for people who have diabetes? What's the danger? Answers from M. Regina Castro, M.D. Diabetes has many possible complications, including nerve damage (neuropathy). Over time, excess blood sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish the nerves. This can cause tingling or numbness that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and over a period of months or years gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, it's possible to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. If you have any degree of nerve damage, you may not be able to sense if an electric blanket or heating pad is too hot — which can lead to inadvertent burns. The same issue applies to water temperature when bathing. If you have diabetes and would like to use an electric blanket, warm up your bed with the blanket before bedtime — then turn the blanket off or remove it from the bed before you climb in. Continue reading >>
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How To Manage Your Diabetes In Extreme Summer Heat
We often look forward to changes of season, but if you have diabetes , you need to be extra careful when temperatures climb dramatically. Extreme heat can affect your blood sugar control. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy If you use insulin or if your treatment of blood sugars is inadequate, this can put you at higher risk. Often, worsening blood sugar control is the main concern. Depending on the situation and your level of physical activity, low blood sugars are also possible. Extreme temperatures can also damage your medications and testing equipment. I always remind my patients to take precautions to protect themselves and their supplies during both winter and summer. If a patient’s blood sugars are mostly higher than 250 mg/dl, I recommend improving blood sugar control before engaging in heavy physical activity — regardless of the climate and the temperature, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. The extreme heat of summer affects blood sugar levels. How the heat affects your levels depends on what you’ve eaten, whether you’re well-hydrated and your activity level. If the heat and your activity make you sweat profusely, you may become dehydrated, leading to a rise in glucose levels. If you become dehydrated, your blood glucose levels will rise. This can lead to frequent urination, which then leads to further dehydration and even higher blood sugar levels — a kind of vicious cycle. Further, if the treatment includes insulin, dehydration reduces blood supply to the skin and, therefore, less absorption of injected insulin dosage. Most types of insulin can tolerate temperatures from 93 degrees F to 95 d Continue reading >>
Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website. What is diabetic neuropathy? Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that happens in people with diabetes. It is more common in men than in women. People with diabetic neuropathy can have numbness (loss of feeling), tingling, or pain in different parts of their body. Most often, the nerves and skin of the feet are affected. Diabetic neuropathy also can affect other nerves and areas of skin, blood vessels, and the heart, bowel, bladder, or genitals. What causes diabetic neuropathy? If your blood sugar levels are high, you are more likely to get diabetic neuropathy. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels and nerves. What can I do to keep from getting diabetic neuropathy? Treatment of diabetes can delay or prevent diabetic neuropathy. Here are some things you can do: • Learn as much as you can about diabetes and how to control the disease. Work with your doctor to set goals, such as better blood sugar control and getting more exercise. • Keep your blood sugar levels within your goal. • Learn how a healthy diet and exercise can lower your blood sugar levels. • If you have high blood pressure or a high cholesterol level, take your medicine. Tell your doctor if you cannot take your medicines in the way they are prescribed. • If you are overweight, ask your doctor what you can do to lose weight. • Do not use alcohol or tobacco. Record keeping is important: • Keep a list of all medicines, supplements (such as vitamins), and herbal products that you take. Writ Continue reading >>
6 Ways To Pamper Your Feet When You Have Diabetes
Proper foot care is essential when you have diabetes. Without it, minor foot problems can quickly turn into serious issues. So why not go all out and give your feet the special treatment they deserve? Here are 6 suggestions for how to pamper your feet when you have diabetes. Use a good foot cream Dry feet can cause the skin on your feet to crack, which leaves you vulnerable to foot infections and foot ulcers. After a bath or shower, apply a moisturizing cream to keep your feet feeling soft. Be careful not to moisturize between your toes, however. Moisture buildup can contribute to fungal infections of the foot and tissue breakdown. Invest in quality socks What’s more comfy than the perfect pair of socks? If you have diabetes, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting socks. Avoid socks with tight elastic bands or internal seams as they can restrict the circulation of blood to your feet. Also stay away from very thick, bulky socks, which can also reduce your circulation. Wear socks to bed Do your feet tend to get cold at night? Don’t reach for that hot water bottle or heating pad. People with diabetes often have a loss of sensation in their feet, so cuddling up to a hot object could lead to unexpected burns. Wearing socks to bed is a safer bet for keeping your feet warm on cold nights. Get a comfy pair of slippers People with diabetes should never go barefoot. Walking barefoot around the house puts you at risk for foot injuries like cuts or scrapes. Make sure you keep a comfortable pair of slippers or Crocs on hand to wear while relaxing at home. Give yourself a pedicure Going to a nail salon can be a nice treat, but if you have diabetes, nail salons may not be prepared to give your feet the extra special treatment they need. By doing your own pedicure at Continue reading >>