Srinagar: Fifty-year-old artisan Manzoor Ahmad (name changed) is learning to walk all over again. It has been six months since Manzoor’s right foot was amputated after he developed a serious infection.
Manzoor, who has been suffering from diabetes for the last 15 years, developed a blister on his right toe in May. Three months later, the blister took the shape of a wound that refused to heal. “By the time I consulted a doctor, it was already too late. My foot couldn’t be salvaged,” he said.
Similarly, Ayaz Ahmad, 55, has been suffering from diabetes for the last 10 years. In May, a thorn pierced his left foot while tending to the garden. Subsequently, he developed a swelling followed by ulceration and necrosis (death and degeneration of the tissue).
“Two months on, I noticed foul- smelling discharge from the wound. This is when I rushed to the doctor, who told me that the thorn was still inside the foot and required wound debridement (a surgical process that carefully removes dead tissue),” Ayaz said.
Diabetes prevalence has increased significantly in the valley over the last one decade. Health experts said disease is often diagnosed in patients after irreversible complications such as retinopathy, kidney damage, heart disease or slow-healing wounds.
Dr Nazir Palla, an endocrinologist at SMHS hospital, said individuals suffering from diabetes are susceptible to neuropathy.
“It occurs when blood vessels supplying nerves with oxygen and nutrients are damaged. Owing to which the individuals suffering from diabetes are unable to feel pain. This translates into injuries being undetected for prolonged periods, resulting in minor injuries and alterations becoming gateways to potentially disabling infections, which may necessitate lower limb amputation,” he said.
Dr Palla stressed that prevention and early diagnosis are the way forward.”Proper awareness can help in saving a limb’, he said.
Dr Hayat Bhat, an endocrinologist at SMHS hospital, said diabetic patients in Kashmir are unaware of the gravity of the diabetic foot problem. “The foot care in diabetics is of paramount importance as it goes unnoticed leading to infections, which may require amputation and even lead to death,” Dr Bhat said.
A 2018 study by Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar revealed that one out of every ten residents of Srinagar aged over 20 years has insulin dependent diabetes.
The findings reveal that 22 percent of the Srinagar population suffers from impaired fasting glucose (IFG), a condition also called pre-diabetes which indicates a person would eventually land-up a diabetic if no medical intervention is done immediately