Many middle-aged and elderly people pay great attention to health care, but during physical examinations they are told that their blood sugar exceeds the standard or they have diabetes. In fact, chronic diseases do not occur suddenly. When blood sugar is high, the body will more or less send out an early warning.
As the saying goes: “A person’s legs age first.” During the aging process of the human body, the legs are the first to undergo changes. It can be said that the legs and feet are the “blood glucose meters” of the human body. When blood sugar exceeds the standard, the legs and feet may release the following signals:
1. The wound is not easy to heal. Wound healing requires cells near the wound to continuously divide and grow new cells, and it also requires immune cells in the blood to function to prevent the invasion of viruses and bacteria. High blood sugar will destroy the body’s original “comfortable” environment, and even cause vascular lesions and metabolic abnormalities, depriving wounds of sufficient nutrition and self-healing capabilities, making it difficult to heal. In addition, the immunity of elderly patients with diabetes is inherently poor. Improper treatment may cause repeated bacterial infections in the feet, eventually leading to long-term inability to heal wounds.
2. “Sugar spots” appear. “Sugar spots” are also called “pretibial sugar spots”. They are more common in male diabetic patients. They mainly appear as some irregular brown spots on the front of the calf, which are neither painful nor itchy. It is mainly due to the dysfunction of vascular endothelial cells caused by persistent high blood sugar, as well as capillary hypertension and poor protein metabolism, resulting in insufficient blood flow and malnutrition in the skin. Once there is trauma to the lower limbs, skin erythema, blisters, and Symptoms such as erosion.
3. Numbness of legs and feet. Long-term high blood sugar can cause adverse stimulation to the inner walls of blood vessels, causing “stiffness”, hindering normal blood circulation, and causing numbness in the legs and feet. Some patients with diabetes may develop peripheral neuropathy as their condition worsens, which can also lead to numbness in the lower limbs. As the neuropathy progresses, the symptoms will become more and more severe.
4. Itchy skin. Excessive blood sugar will cause more inflammatory factors to be produced in blood vessels and damage peripheral nerve endings, resulting in a series of uncomfortable symptoms, such as skin itching. This kind of itching mainly occurs in parts such as hands and feet. It feels like ants crawling on the skin. It is often more obvious at night. Itchy skin not only affects daily life and work, but also reduces sleep quality. A small number of patients experience hyperalgesia or decreased pain sensitivity.
5. Chapped skin. People with long-term hyperglycemia will have higher osmotic pressure in their bodies. Skin blood vessels are in a state of expansion, and water in the tissue will slowly transfer to the blood. Some of this body fluid will be lost from the skin, causing skin dehydration and dryness. In addition, high blood sugar will also stimulate the microcirculatory regulation mechanism, causing circulatory disorders in the skin itself, leading to dry or chapped skin.
Chronic disease prevention is better than treatment. In daily life, middle-aged and elderly people should pay more attention to the subtle changes in their legs and feet. If high blood sugar is not effectively controlled for a long time, it may cause very serious complications. If you have the above symptoms frequently, you should go to the hospital in time.
(The author is chief physician of the Department of Cardiology, Beijing Hospital)