Treatment for Wounds: Breathe in Healing | Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

If you have diabetes, chances are you’re struggling with several factors affecting the health of your lower extremities.  You could have vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, or swelling.  In addition, you could be dealing with poor nutrition.

All of these complications can damage the healthy tissues in your legs and feet, potentially leading to chronic wounds that don’t heal and increase your risk of amputation.  Getting more oxygen to those tissues can be an effective weapon in battling those wounds.  Among other therapies your doctor might suggest, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) that increases your blood oxygen level can be a useful treatment option that can promote natural-healing.

What is HBOT?
HBOT is an outpatient therapy during which you breathe 100-percent oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. Air pressure is up to three times higher than normal, increasing the amount of oxygen transported to the blood stream.

How does HBOT work?
The increased pressure forces oxygen to dissolve into your blood — up to 10-13 fold increase. With more oxygen in your blood, your body can fight off infection better, stimulate the production of stem cells for greater healing, and can prompt the growth of new blood vessels to wounded tissues.

During the treatment, you might feel a fullness in your ears similar to being in a plane or in a high elevator. Yawn to alleviate the pressure.

How long does hyperbaric oxygen therapy last?
Most sessions last between 90-120 minutes. During the first 5-15 minutes, your hyperbaric technician will change the atmospheric pressure in the chamber to feel like you’re between 33 and 45 feet under water. You’ll stay at that pressure for roughly 60-90 minutes, and your doctor will return the pressure to normal during the session’s final 5-15 minutes.

How many HBOT treatments will you need?
The number of sessions depends on the condition you’re treating. For non-healing wounds, you’ll likely need somewhere between 20-40 sessions.

How will you feel after HBOT treatment?
Post-treatment, you might feel tired and hungry; however, it’s safe for you to return to your normal activities.

What are the risks of HBOT?
Prior to your hyperbaric oxygen therapy, your physician will discuss with you potential risks and side effects. Most patients experience no side effects from HBO therapy. However, some patients may feel ear discomfort or sinus pressure.

What are the benefits of HBOT?
HBOT increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your tissues that don’t get enough, and it can reduce swelling. This can be helpful if you have poor circulation due to diabetes. Additionally, higher oxygen levels help your body produce more white blood cells to kill bacteria, and it can maximize the effect of some antibiotics.

To learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy or about the Amputation Prevention Center of America, please contact us today.



Side-Stepping Amputation: It’s All In Your Feet | Diabetes

Amputation Prevention with Diabetes

Diabetes Amputation Prevention

Amputation is a serious risk when you have diabetes. In fact, your risk is 28 times higher than someone without the condition.

Most amputations are lower limb — toes, feet, below the knee, and above the knee. And, the risk is greatest for men, older adults, and non-Hispanic black males.

Fortunately, you can limit your risk. Control your blood sugar, exercise daily, and take your medications correctly. But, the most important thing you can do is take care of your feet.

Inspect your feet: Check your feet daily for sores, redness, blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails, numbness, open sores, or any temperature changes or hair loss. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet easily, use a mirror.

Wash your feet: Use a mild soap and warm (not hot) water. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes, and apply a non-alcoholic lotion to your feet. It keeps your feet soft and prevents cracks that let bacteria into your skin. Don’t put lotion between your toes as it can cause blisters, and don’t soak your feet because it can dry out your skin.

Cut your toenails: Cut your toenails straight across with straight clippers, and file down sharp edges. Apply foot powder, such as talcum or corn starch, to your feet, if desired.

Wear socks: Choose soft, seamless, padded socks to avoid sores and blisters. Make sure they don’t pinch or rub. They should be loose enough around the top so they don’t cut off circulation. Also, choose socks that pull sweat away from your skin, such as cotton or special acrylic. Avoid nylon.

Pay attention to shoes: Change shoes at least once daily to side-step pressure points. Check your shoes regularly for pebbles or sharp objects, and make sure they have enough cushioning for the heel, arch, and ball of your foot. Select shoes with enough room for your toes, and if your feet are two different sizes, buy the larger shoes. Don’t wear sandals or flip flops, and don’t go barefoot — even at home.

Leave calluses alone: Don’t attempt to remove calluses or foot lesions by yourself. Avoid using nail files, nail clippers, or scissors, and don’t apply chemical wart removers. Instead, see a podiatrist for expert care.

Quit smoking: Smoking constricts your blood vessels and limits oxygen to your extremities. Poor circulation is a large contributing factor to amputation risk.

These steps go a long way toward helping you avoid amputation, but know when to seek medical care. Contact your doctor if you develop these signs of trouble:

  • Ingrown toenails
  • Blisters
  • Plantar warts on the soles of your feet (flesh colored bumps with dark specks)
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Discolored skin
  • Warmth in one area
  • Pain
  • Foul odor
  • Ulcer lasting longer than 2 weeks
  • Ulcer bigger than ¾ inch
  • Ulcer so deep it exposes bone
  • Sores than don’t heal quickly

Following these steps and seeking care when needed can improve your long-term mobility, increase your quality of life, and, potentially, increase your life expectancy.

Contact us today to learn more about Amputation Prevention Centers of America.



How Eating Well Keeps Your Feet Healthy

We all know that eating well is good for us. Consuming more leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, salmon and sardines, beans, legumes, and whole grains improves our health and well-being. So does eating lean protein, good fats, and limiting sugar.

But what does that have to do with our feet? A lot, it turns out. Eating nutrient dense foods can help protect our feet from one of the most serious complications of diabetes — foot ulcers.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Matters

Why, you ask? Good nutrition helps you lose and keep off excess pounds. And that helps prevent nerve damage, blood sugar fluctuations, obesity, and high blood pressure — all of which put you at greater risk for foot ulcers and impairs your body’s ability to heal itself.

The Role of Nerve Damage in Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Prolonged high blood sugar can cause nerve damage (neuropathy). Carefully monitor your blood sugar keeping it as close to normal as possible. Keeping it at a safe level protects the nerves throughout your body including your feet.

Nerve damage is a major cause of diabetic foot ulcers. It often occurs when your blood sugar is not controlled, you have high blood fats, high blood pressure (hypertension), and are overweight. It can start as tingling and progress to pain. Then you can lose feeling. Blisters and sores can go unnoticed if your foot is numb.

Reduce Your Risk Factors

Smoking, excess alcohol, high blood pressure, and poor circulation in your legs and feet (peripheral arterial disease) also increase your risk for diabetic foot ulcers.

If you smoke, quit. It’s the only solution if you want to protect your feet. Here’s why. Smoking depletes the body of essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help prevent disease.

What’s more, smoking narrows small blood vessels and hardens them. That means your feet do not get enough blood and nourishment they need, so they are less able to fight infection and heal.

Many people with diabetes who require foot amputation are smokers.

Limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol damages your nerves and blood vessels — two major risk factors for foot ulcers — and greatly increases the likelihood that you will get an infection.

If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), work with your doctor to lower it. High blood pressure damages your blood vessels. They thicken, stiffen, and build up fat reducing blood flow and healing nutrients to your feet. Eating less animal protein and eating more plant-based, nutrient rich meals helps reduce blood pressure.

If you have poor circulation in your legs (peripheral arterial disease or PAD), the large vessels in your legs are partially blocked limiting blood flow to your feet. Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and exercising can help treat poor circulation.

The Bottom Line

Eating a nutrient rich diet can save your feet — and your life. Half of all people with diabetes who require foot amputation are dead within two years of losing their feet.

Luckily, you can train your brain and your taste buds to adopt a nutritious diet.

Need help inventing nutrient dense menus that you will enjoy? Talk with a registered dietician to create delicious, nutritious meal plans that match your tastes and lifestyle.

Your feet will thank you.


What are diabetic foot ulcers?

Often people ask me, “What are diabetic foot ulcers and why are they so harmful?” So I am here to help you understand what they are, why they occur, and why they can be dangerous.

What is a diabetic foot ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore on your foot that fails to heal. They often occur on the bottom of your feet but can occur anywhere skin or tissue breaks down or is cut open.

Why do diabetic foot ulcers occur?

Normally, if you injure your foot, you feel pain that alerts you to the injury. You then take steps to treat it: clean the wound, apply a bandage and perhaps ointment, and replace poor fitting shoes if that is the underlying problem. Your body continues the healing process and your foot heals well.

But when you have diabetes, your natural healing process and pain reflexes can be disrupted. If you develop poor circulation in your legs and feet (peripheral arterial disease or PAD), have high blood sugar, or both, healing slows down.

If you have nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), your feet may feel numb. Or you may have no feeling at all. In either case, the injury may be painless. When that happens, blisters, cuts, and sores can go unnoticed. That’s when serious problems can begin.

Why are diabetic foot ulcers so harmful to me?

Diabetic foot ulcers can be downright dangerous. They are the leading cause of amputation and hospitalization when you have diabetes.

If infection spreads throughout your body, or severe ligament, muscle, and bone damage occurs, amputation may be necessary. In less severe cases, you may need surgery to remove tissue that has died.

In the best circumstances, it takes weeks to several months for a diabetic foot ulcer to heal.

Having diabetes puts you a much greater risk for a foot ulcer. Once you have had one, you are more likely to develop another.

What can I do to prevent them if I have diabetes?

Although preventing a diabetic foot ulcer is not always possible, you can take steps to reduce your risk.

Here are my 6 basic rules to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers:

  1. Keep your blood sugar at your target level throughout the day.
  2. Practice daily foot care. Wash, thoroughly dry, moisturize (except between toes), and carefully inspect your feet every day. Use a mirror or helper if needed.
  3. Eat a healthy diet as advised by your doctor and dietician.
  4. Keep your toenails trimmed, cutting straight across.
  5. Have a podiatrist remove corns and calluses.
  6. Always wear well-fitting shoes and clean, dry socks indoors and out.

Most important, talk to your doctor right away if you have any foot sore or foot problem that does not heal promptly. Report any breaks in your skin and any changes in the feeling, shape, or color of your feet.

Early treatment is key to preventing infections and serious complications. Contact the Amputation Prevention Center of America for more information.