Living with Type 1 Diabetes comes with a lot of complexities. It's a disease which has the potential to negatively impact almost every organ in our body, including the eyes, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, gums, teeth and heart. It can also increase the potential for blood vessel and nerve damage, leading to poor circulation and vein complications. Compression socks could be the solution to preventing these complications, this week, we explore the benefits of compression for anyone suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.
What is type 1 diabetes?
With type 1 diabetes, our bodies no longer release insulin – that wonderful hormone that lets you go back for seconds on pasta night, or enjoy the sweet goodness of your mid-morning muffin.
Insulin breaks-down the sugar, or more specifically the glucose, in the food you're eating, and stores it for future use. Insulin also helps keep your blood sugar levels from spiking too high, or dipping too low.
Complications from type 1 diabetes occur when the levels of glucose in the blood increases too much, this is referred to as ‘hyperglycaemia’. And it is managed by injecting insulin into the body.
However, if the body doesn't receive insulin, then the glucose you consume ends up floating around in your blood vessels until eventually being absorbed by the kidneys. This is why type 1 diabetes is often associated with excessive urination. The kidney solution works for a while, until it can’t take the responsibility anymore and there is just too much glucose!
The effects of Glucose
Glucose, the giver of life and energy of our cells, is also terribly corrosive. Unabsorbed glucose forms complexes with our blood vessels, causing the tissue to breakdown, altering their structure and function.
When blood vessels are damaged, vein complication can arise - due to gravity, this generally occurs in the legs, or lower part of the body. Our veins are responsible for circulating blood back up towards the heart, however, if the veins become damaged, blood begins to pool, leading to Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or CVI. Varicose veins are the most common symptom of CVI.
Another result of damaged blood vessels is Peripheral Edema - the retention of fluid in leg tissues and cells. Peripheral edema can cause issues with the venous circulation system, the lymphatic system or the kidneys.
How can compression help type 1 diabetes?
Compression can assist with managing the symptoms of both CVI and peripheral edema. Garments like compression socks and stockings help improve lower limb circulation by applying pressure from the ankle, upwards. Graduated compression is highly efficient in handling poor circulation and relieving discomfort.
By squeezing the leg tissues and walls of the veins, compression can help blood in the veins return to the heart. They can also improve the flow of the fluid (called lymph) which lives in the cells in the legs. Improving the flow of lymph can help reduce tissue swelling.
Compression levels are measured in mmHg and they include:
- 18-21 mmHg (Class 1 Moderate Compression)
- 23-32 mmHg (Class 2 Firm Compression)
- 34-46 mmHg (Class 3 Extra Firm Compression)
Guidelines vary among countries and regions for the compression level and length of use. Bauerfeind adheres to the globally recognised RAL standards. For help selecting the right compression, please call us at 1300 668 466 or you can book a free video consultation with a Bauerfeind expert.
Bauerfeind has a range of medical-grade compression socks and stockings, constructed using the finest quality materials to provide unparalleled support and comfort. You can view them here: Compression.