Diabetes and Poor Circulation: Why It Happens and How To Address or Prevent It

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How Does Diabetes Cause Poor Circulation?

Diabetes affects the body in many ways, including that it can have a negative impact on blood flow. How does diabetes cause poor circulation? There are a few different ways. First, sugar-based material builds up in the walls of small blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood that can flow through them.

In addition to narrowing blood vessels, diabetes can cause inflammation in the vessels. This also reduces blood flow. Plus, it greatly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes. Consequently, proper management of blood glucose levels is very important.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation

People with poor circulation will have symptoms that include:

  • Pain when walking
  • Hair loss on the feet or legs
  • Chest pain when exercising
  • Brittle toenails
  • High blood pressure
  • Diminishing eyesight
  • Infections in the feet

If you experience poor circulation symptoms, you should talk with your doctor and also take steps to improve your circulation.

How Can Diabetes Improve Circulation for Feet?

People with diabetes often have issues related to their feet due to poor circulation. How can diabetics improve circulation there? Here are some tips:

  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do to improve circulation to your feet, as smoking hardens the arteries, decreasing blood flow.
  • Wear support socks. These special socks, also called compression stockings, apply pressure to the lower legs to help support proper blood flow.
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels and adversely affect circulation.
  • Exercise regularly. Getting exercise on a regular basis provides a wide range of benefits, from improving overall circulation to helping lower high blood pressure.
  • Manage your blood sugar. Allowing your blood glucose to be outside the normal range can contribute to poor circulation in the feet.
  • Watch your cholesterol. Getting the right amount of good cholesterol, bad cholesterol and triglycerides is helpful for people with diabetes. Your doctor or dietician can provide guidance.

Tips for Poor Circulation Prevention

Understanding the relationship between diabetes and circulation, and preventing circulation problems, is crucial for people with this condition. If you have high blood glucose, frequent blood sugar monitoring will help you know when and how to take action to bring the level down.

You should also get regular blood pressure checks and eye exams, as these tests can help your healthcare providers spot circulation problems. In addition, you should pay close attention to your feet and lower legs to spot signs of infection or changes to the skin.

Learn More Diabetes and Circulation from Baptist Health

Be proactive about your or a loved one’s health and explore the diabetes care services that Baptist Health offers.