Diabetes and Wound Care – Why Blood Sugar Matters
Diabetes and wound care are intrinsically linked, and maybe more than you have been lead to believe. My husband was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in fact, and shortly after that, he was in a car accident and had to have surgery.
The nurse on duty stressed to us how important blood sugar control was to the healing of that wound. So of course, I started doing some research and would like to share with you what I found.
Your blood sugar level is the main factor that affects how quickly your wound will heal…
…and it is the primary reason for concern when diabetes and wound care. The reason this is a problem is because of three basic factors. First, when your blood sugar level is consistently high, it prevents nutrients and oxygen from getting used by your cells. Secondly, if your blood glucose is high, your body responds by increasing inflammation all over your body. Third, your immune system cannot function properly when sugar is too high.
Now, when cells cannot get the proper nutrients and oxygen, they simply cannot function correctly.
Think of it like starvation – when your body starves, other complications develop because of nutrient deficiencies (think Scurvy or Rickets), and things start malfunctioning. The further your body goes into starvation, weight loss occurs (cell shrinkage and energy depletion in a cell). Systems begin to shut down – in a cell this may mean that the mitochondria that actually work like a furnace in your body, start to shut down and it can’t deliver the energy your cells need to survive. They may atrophy and die off. This situation cannot promote healing, or wellness when combining diabetes and wound care.
Then, your body increases inflammation – swelling, in order to protect itself.
Kind of like airbags deploying in a car (and let me tell you, we found out JUST how many airbags our Jeep had! All 7 of them deployed, saving my husband’s life.) Your body’s “airbags” are triggered by damage to living tissue – which can be directly caused by blood sugar being high as discussed above. This mechanism is meant to protect you, but as an ongoing, constant bodily condition, it can cause serious harm. If things are inflamed, there is fluid retention, there can be cell death and poor circulation developed because of chronic inflammation.
Normal bodies usually use inflammation to treat a direct wound, but a diabetic body is unable to properly shut inflammation down in most cases, and it progresses to a constant state.
All of these, then compound into the dysfunction of your entire immune system.
Immune dysfunction means your body’s natural defense mechanism is faltering – like the force-field around the Starship Enterprise. When the “shields” go down, the ship is vulnerable to attack. The bad stuff can get in.
Combine all these factors, and you can see why diabetes and wound care can be so complex, and difficult.
What are some steps you can take to make sure your wounds heal properly?
- Make sure, first and foremost, that your blood sugar levels are under control. Take your medications that your doctor prescribes regularly, check your blood sugar as directed. If your blood sugar is not well maintained, see your doctor to figure out what your next steps need to be. Your blood sugar is the KEY COMPONENT in your body’s health and wellness.
- Take your nutrition seriously. Eat foods that are not only good, but good FOR you. Get plenty of proteins and veggies, and avoid carbs like they are the devil. Carbohydrates are sugar’s ugly step-step sister who will sell your soul for a penny. If you guard against sugars and carbs in your diet, this may be the single most effective thing you can do to maintain good blood sugar levels and A1C.
- Exercise! I know, I know. EVERYONE tells you to exercise. But everyone tells you that because it REALLY works. Take a walk an hour after eating for at least 15 minutes. You don’t have to kill yourself or train like you are going to be in the Tour De France, but the more mobile you are, the better off your health will be, and the longer you can live.
- Maintain and practice an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Use supplements that help with inflammation, eat foods that help reduce inflammation, stretch, do yoga if you can, and be active. Sedentary lifestyles promote inflammation. Do everything you can do to prevent that protective mechanism from deploying, and you will heal from wounds faster and more efficiently than ever.
You may also want to read this article on diabetic nueropathy .