Get Answers From Ruben de Los Santos, MD
May 19, 2020
If you are living with diabetes, taking proper care of your feet is especially important. Hyperbaric Medical Director Ruben de Los Santos, MD, says diabetics who experience numbness in their extremities may not be aware of injuries. These injuries can develop into chronic wounds with severe consequences. Here, Dr. de Los Santos shares important information on wound care.
Q: How does having diabetes complicate wound healing?
Diabetes interferes with the generation of new cells. High blood sugar can put you at increased risk for infection, blunting the response to bacteria. Diabetes can also cause decreased blood circulation in the feet and legs, which can lead to ulcers and slow healing. And finally, diabetes can impair the nervous system, so wounds are not noticed until they are advanced.
Q: What do I do if a wound isn’t healing?
Make sure wounds are kept clean and protected. Wounds should be bandaged with clean materials and not left open to air. Taking pressure off the wound is important. The less walking on the wound, the quicker it can heal. If a wound hasn’t healed in three weeks, it’s considered chronic. At that point, you should seek care. We can coordinate further care, investigate the barriers to healing, and organize an advanced approach.
Q: Is there anything I can do to help speed up the healing process?
Proper nutrition is a big factor in managing your diabetes and in healing wounds. Follow the ADA diet guidelines and limit the amount of sugar in your diet. Make sure to incorporate protein, such as meat, dairy products and nuts, in all your meals. All new tissue is made from protein, and wounds typically heal more quickly when enough protein is consumed.
Q: What treatments are available for complex or hard-to-heal wounds?
In certain problem wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be considered as a treatment. Patients are placed in a chamber at an increased atmospheric pressure filled with pure oxygen. This dramatically increases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy decreases inflammation, kills bacteria, makes antibiotics work better, releases new cells and growth factors to repair tissue, and speeds healing.