Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions frequently asked by our patients at the Center for Diabetic Limb Preservation at Northwest Hospital:

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects at least 171 million people worldwide. It is characterized by high levels of blood glucose, which can be a result of defects in insulin production. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to an early death. Click here to learn more.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes - Also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile onset diabetes. Develops when the body’s own immune system destroys cells in the body that make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes - Develops when the body doesn’t make sufficient insulin or when cells don’t use the insulin properly. Heart disease and stroke are the main killers of people with type 2 diabetes.

Factors that increase someone’s risk of acquiring diabetes include:

  • Old age
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • History of gestational diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Thirst
  • Hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Treatment options for diabetes include:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercise
  • Insulin
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol

Visit the Diabetes Resource Center at Sinai and the Diabetes & Nutrition Center at Northwest Hospital for more information.

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes that causes damage to nerves in the legs and feet. It is most often caused by blood sugar that is too high for a long period of time.

There are four types of diabetic neuropathy:

1. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy - The most common form of diabetic neuropathy that affects the feet and legs. Symptoms include:

  • Tingling and burning feeling
  • Numbness
  • Sensitivity to the touch
  • Weak muscles
  • Pain and difficulty walking

2. Diabetic Autonomic Neuropathy – Most commonly affects the digestive system (stomach, blood vessels, urinary system). Symptoms include:

  • Constipation and uncontrolled diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing

3. Diabetic Proximal Neuropathy – Most commonly affects thighs, hips and buttocks. Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness of legs

4. Diabetic Focal Neuropathy – Most commonly affects the specific nerve area. Symptoms include:

  • Changes in vision
  • Eye and chest pain
  • Pain in a certain area
  • Paralysis on one side of the face

Maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels is the best way to prevent the above types of diabetic neuropathy.

What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease is the most common type of peripheral vascular disease, which is a narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. It is caused when plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow.

To learn more about peripheral artery disease, click here.

Why are diabetics at risk for not healing or amputations?

Diabetics are at risk for not healing or amputations because:

  • Poor blood circulation
  • Increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves in the legs and feet
  • Serious infection is more likely to occur
  • More vulnerable to skin sores and ulcers

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a specialized medical treatment in which a patient breathes 100% oxygen inside a pressured chamber. The treatment quickly delivers high concentrations of oxygen to the bloodstream.

To learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, click here.