BETHESDA, Md., Nov. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As COVID-19 appears to be building momentum worldwide, America's podiatrists say they're treating some of the sickest patients of their careers—but those patients are not suffering from the coronavirus. Instead, they're patients with diabetes who have delayed care due to fear of exposure to the virus and are suffering serious complications, ranging from severe diabetic foot wounds to gangrene to sepsis. Data have shown amputation rates are anywhere from three to 10 times what they were prior to the pandemic.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is marking November's Diabetes Awareness Month with a public education campaign designed to urge the 34 million Americans living with diabetes to keep their regular health-care appointments. The campaign, Keep Your Appointment, Keep Your Feet, will provide strategies for maintaining control of diabetes during the pandemic and information about when to seek care for a foot or ankle concern.
"People with diabetes are at high risk from COVID-19," said APMA President Seth A. Rubenstein, DPM. "They should absolutely take appropriate precautions, such as wearing masks in public and avoiding large gatherings. In addition to taking such precautions, they also must continue to monitor and care for their diabetes."
In fact, Dr. Rubenstein said, the risks of avoiding diabetes care are much higher than the risk of exposure to the coronavirus in a medical facility. Physicians' practices are taking extensive precautions to keep patients and providers alike safe during the pandemic. Safeguards include additional PPE, requirements for patients to wear masks, social distancing in waiting areas, temperature checks, pre-appointment questionnaires, disinfection between patients, and more. Virtual appointments may also be available.
"We're encouraging people with diabetes to keep their appointments to keep their feet," said Priya Parthasarathy, DPM, chair of the APMA Communications Committee. "During the pandemic, we want patients to stay active, stay alert, and stay in contact with their podiatrist."
Patients can stay active by engaging in regular exercise. They should stick to a sensible diet designed to help control their blood sugar and keep all their appointments with their diabetes care team. They can stay alert by being vigilant about daily foot exams, looking for changes in color or temperature of the feet and new injuries. They should wear shoes, even around the house. Patients can stay in contact by keeping their regular health-care appointments, especially with their podiatrist. If they notice a change in their feet or sustain an injury, they should contact their podiatrist immediately.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is the nation's leading professional organization for today's podiatrists. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) are qualified by their education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. APMA has 53 state component locations across the United States and its territories, with a membership of more than 12,500 podiatrists. All practicing APMA members are licensed by the state in which they practice podiatric medicine. For more information, visit www.apma.org.