November 14 is a day we reserve to consider a disease that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. No, it’s not COVID-19, but rather diabetes – also a worldwide epidemic. World Diabetes Day is the perfect time for Fairfax County’s Clifton Foot & Ankle Center to talk about what diabetes is, why it’s important for our patients to avoid it, and how we care for our patients who do have it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is an insulin problem. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar levels. There are two main forms of diabetes:

  • Type 1: the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. Type 1 diabetics must replace insulin with daily injections.
  • Type 2: the pancreas produces insulin, but either body doesn’t use it well, or the pancreas can’t produce enough of it. Some people with type 2 diabetics can control their blood sugar levels through diet and exercise; others may need to take medications or insulin.

Another form of diabetes affects pregnant women: gestational diabetes usually disappears after the birth of the child.

How to avoid getting diabetes

You can’t prevent getting Type 1 diabetes. As for Type 2, there are many ways to reduce your risk, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, not smoking, and getting regular exercise. But your risk is higher if the disease runs in your family, or you’re Native-, Hispanic-, or African American – factors that are out of your control.

There’s a reason board-certified podiatrists like Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm hope that our patients can avoid diabetes: it’s really hard on your feet. Foot problems like bunions, cracked heels, ingrown toenails, and calluses – which are quite treatable for most people – can be dangerous for people with diabetes.

How we care for patients with diabetes

Dr. Wilhelm recommends that patients with diabetes see him at least once per year. He spends quality time with every individual, looking to catch small problems before they morph into big ones. Make an appointment for your annual diabetic foot check online or by calling our Centreville, Virginia office at (703) 996-3000.

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