What Are Bedsores?
Bedsores (pressure ulcers) are open wounds, to be more precise areas of damaged skin and underlying tissues that develop as a consequence of a prolonged pressure on the affected area. In case the pressure lasts long enough the affected area is simply deprived from blood (oxygen and all the essential nutrients) and lack of circulation eventually leads to specific skin changes. The most susceptible parts to pressure ulcers are the buttocks, hips and heels. In case of lack of blood the tissue dies and these specific wounds occur.
Bedsores affect all patients who are bedridden for a longer period of time. For example, they are typical for people who are suffering from paralysis, patients using wheelchairs and old people who are bedridden because of different chronic illnesses. Pressure ulcers also affect patients suffering from terminal stage of cancer.
Major problem associated with bedsores is that they tend to develop and progress quickly and they are very difficult if not impossible to heal. This is why it is essential for all patients who are susceptible to bedsores to be properly taken care of and by applying specific protective measures bedsores can be successfully prevented.
Preventing Patient Bedsores
No matter if the patient is hospitalized or lies in a bed at home it is essential to help him/her change position in bed as often as possible (around every 15 minutes for people in wheelchair and 2 hours for bedridden patients). This way pressure will be equally distributed to different parts of the body and the risk of bedsores will be drastically reduced.
There are certain guidelines when it comes to changing position. It is essential to avid lying on the hips and if one lies on his/her side the position should not exceed a 30-degree angle. Legs must be well-supported. If one is lying on his/her back legs can be supported with a foam pad or a pillow. Separation of knees and ankles is obtained with small pillows and pads. Pressure-reducing mattress or bed are highly beneficial for these patients. People who are in wheelchairs can benefit from pressure-release wheelchairs.
Furthermore, the skin must be checked on daily bases. Particular attention is given to hips, spine and lower back, shoulder blades, elbows and heels. Proper nutrition is of additional help in prevention of skin breaking and can assist in wound healing. People who are malnourished are more susceptible to bedsores than patients who eat adequately. And finally, one may need to make some lifestyle changes such as quit smoking, engage in prescribed physical therapy and develop a positive attitude.