A battery powered thermometer designed to be used daily by diabetics as a home diagnostic tool is helping to cut down on ulcers and infections in diabetics that often lead to amputations. The thermometer takes readings on the soles of the feet.
Sustained high blood sugar can lead to long-term nerve and blood vessel damage, resulting in patients losing feeling in their feet. Poor circulation can also cause a lack of blood to certain areas preventing proper healing.
If they were to sustain an injury, or have a cut or ulcer, a diabetic may not feel the pain. As a result, a wound could be left untreated causing an infection, gangrene and, in the worst case scenario, an amputation. The TempTouch thermometer can give sufferers early warning signs that can prevent an infection.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower limb amputations were in people with diabetes. In 2004 there were 71,000 lower limb amputations amongst diabetics.
The device, designed by Diabetica Solutions, of San Antonio, Texas, uses an infrared light to measure changes in body temperature. A significant rise in temperature is often a sign of damage and inflammation. It is recommended that patients use the TempTouch first thing in the morning to monitor any changes. This can alert a patient to an ulcer or sore before it is even visible, allowing for swift medical treatment.
The device measures six areas on the foot and looks at temperature changes for “hot spots” that could indicate a problem. The thermometer only takes a couple of seconds to record the reading in each area. The patients are encouraged to record these readings in a daily log book. If there is an increase of more than four degrees for two days or more then it is recommended that the patient contact their doctor.
The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion said that 23 percent of all diabetics have foot problems and that every 24 hours approximately 230 people will have a diabetic related amputation.
Previous studies have shown that using this thermometer to measure temperature changes cuts ulcer rates by a third. A larger clinical trial is being conducted at Oslo University Hospital, Norway.
The device is currently available to purchase for just under $100.