Can diabetes cause swollen feet?

If you’re suffering from swollen feet and ankles, there could be many reasons why. Speak with your physician to look for signs of injury and consider other health conditions you may be experiencing or medications you may be taking that could influence swollen feet. One common health condition that may be the underlying reason is diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that is related to the body’s ability to release insulin or respond to insulin, and it causes elevated glucose levels (blood sugar). It’s a very prevalent disease in the United States. Read on for more information about what causes swollen feet and ankles with diabetes and the available treatment options.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease more commonly known as diabetes. With diabetes, either the body doesn’t use the hormone insulin properly or it’s not able to release insulin. In the body, insulin signals cells to take up glucose (a form of sugar) to use as a source of energy.

What are the types of diabetes?

People can be diagnosed with different types of diabetes. Each type of diabetes is unique in terms of its causes and treatments.

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. This form of diabetes is usually genetic.
  • Type 2 diabetes happens when your body becomes resistant to insulin, leading to elevated glucose levels in your blood. Over time, your body may be unable to produce insulin. Lifestyle choices can trigger this, but it’s more likely to occur if you have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes or obesity.
  • Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but it’s not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Like type 2 diabetes, genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices can trigger this.
  • Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy. Some pregnant women may experience glucose intolerance that most often goes away after giving birth. However, those who have experienced gestational diabetes are at risk for developing diabetes in the future.

What causes swollen feet and ankles with diabetes?

Poor blood circulation often causes swollen feet and ankles when you have diabetes. Swelling in the feet and ankles is caused by excess fluid that builds up in the body tissue. The swelling is called edema, which is often caused by an underlying issue such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or diabetes. The buildup of fluid can happen in any part of the body, but it’s most common in the hands, arms, legs, feet, and ankles. Edema is just one side effect of diabetes. Other possible symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Damage to the nerves or eyes

Swelling can also occur after you eat salty foods or sit in one position for too long, or it can be a result of hormone changes.

Treatment for swollen feet and ankles from diabetes

When you’re experiencing swollen feet or ankles from diabetes, you might want to try some at-home remedies. Here are some solutions:

  • Use compression socks. Compression socks will help circulate blood flow in your legs, feet, and ankles, which will reduce any swelling. You can purchase compression socks at a pharmacy, medical supply store, or an online retailer.
  • Elevate your feet. Putting your feet higher than your heart will help relieve the swelling. If you aren’t able to prop your foot up above heart level, try using an ottoman to slightly elevate it.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising most days of the week for at least 30 minutes is a great way to reduce swelling and improve blood circulation. It’s also a positive solution for managing weight and lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Lose weight. Losing weight, if recommended by a physician, can help reduce swelling and make it easier to maintain normal blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is at a normal range, poor circulation is less likely to occur.
  • Limit salt. Salty foods can make swelling worse. Speak to your doctor to see how much salt you can consume per day.
  • Increase movement. Try to get movement in throughout the day, especially if you’re working a desk job. Aim to stand up and move around at least once per hour to get blood flowing.

While these are a few things you may wish to incorporate at home, if you’re experiencing diabetes, speak with your doctor about your symptoms and how to manage them. Managing your diabetes will decrease symptoms and relieve the swelling in your feet.

Schedule an appointment with Arizona Foot Doctors

Are you experiencing swollen feet and ankles from diabetes? It’s important to speak with your podiatrist for advice and treatment options. You can schedule an appointment with Arizona Foot Doctors’ medical director, Dr. Steven Burns. Dr. Burns has over 35 years of experience and cares about your needs as a patient. At Arizona Foot Doctors, we’re dedicated to providing you and your family with the best care possible.