Diabetes is a disorder where either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells in the body do not recognize the insulin. Often times, diabetes can be treated with exercise, a healthy diet and medication. But, complications can develop.
To understand diabetes, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body. When you eat, your body turns your food into sugar, also called glucose. At that point, the pancreas releases insulin to open the body’s cells to allow the sugar to enter so it can be used for energy.
But with diabetes, the system doesn’t work.
Without insulin, the sugar stays and builds up in the blood. So the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. If left untreated, problems can develop with the skin, eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
Long-term acute care hospitals specialize in treating patients who may have more than one serious medical condition. Diabetes may be one of the conditions or may exacerbate existing conditions.
A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.
Diabetic neuropathy often damages nerves in the legs or feet. Depending upon the affected nerves, symptoms can range from tingling, pain or numbness in the body’s limbs to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels.
Because neuropathy can cause a lack of feeling in the limbs, especially the feet, injuries such as cuts can go unnoticed.
This can become serious. Not only does a person not feel if a foot becomes injured, but now if it is injured, the risk of infection is higher because diabetes restricts blood flow to the area. An infection can cause tissue to die and spread to the bone if not monitored properly.
Wound care treatments usually are provided to patients under these circumstances at long-term acute care hospitals. However, diabetic patients remain under close observation for other possible complications while being treated at the hospital as well.
Typically medical services at long-term acute care hospitals are tailored to the individual needs of patients. Many patients have more than one medical condition that needs to be treated at the same time – ranging from wound care and infectious diseases to strokes, respiratory failure or cardiovascular disease. Staff at long-term acute care hospitals take all that into account so the most effective care is provided to help patients heal.