MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and there are more than 30 million Americans living with the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
One in 10 adults will develop diabetes by 2040 and doctors say awareness and education is very important to fight it.
According to Dr. Joseph Menn, a podiatrist at Coastal Podiatry Associates, those with diabetes often find walking to be difficult.
"Almost every diabetic patient is going to develop some form of neuropathy," Menn said. "Neuropathy is just a disease of the nerve of the feet, where they lose sensation; they can't feel things."
Menn said it doesn't have to be 100 percent numbness for a patient. A diabetic can lose a little feeling and still experience foot problems.
"(Many of us) have had a blister at some point when they wear a pair of shoes that really didn't fit them that well," he said. "Well imagine a diabetic doing the same thing, wearing that shoe over and over again but they have no idea they are forming a blister because they can't feel it."
According to the American Diabetes Association, one in two adults will go undiagnosed. Menn added that each year he catches several patients who are diabetic, but they have no clue.
"They came in and they had a sore on their foot or a wound on their foot, and we ask them, 'Doesn't that hurt you?' and they say, 'No, I don't feel that,' and that's the first red flag that goes up," Menn said.
He added when shopping in stores, most shoes don't provide the best support for diabetic patients.
"I can't tell you how many diabetics walk in the office with a pair of shoes that are a size too small or either a size in half too small, and their toes are all jammed up in there," Menn said.
He advised diabetic patients to get fitted for the proper medical footwear and make sure the shoes the cover the appropriate width, length and depth to support their feet.
However, It's not just foot problems. Menn said there are other signs of diabetes people should recognize.
"If there's a family history of it, have it tested," he said. "If you are exhibiting symptoms of getting up in the middle of the night to urinate more frequently than you are used, if you are excessively thirsty, if you are craving sweets, if you feel lightheaded in between meals, your blood sugars may be bouncing around too much. Those are signs of and symptoms of diabetes."
Menn also recommended diabetic patients have their feet examined thoroughly once a year. He added they should also check their feet on a daily basis when they wake up and before they go to bed at night.
He said diabetics who examine their feet on a daily basis will identify any redness, blisters or wounds.