Did you know that 60,000 deaths occur annually from bed sores?
Bed sores are also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. They are a common yet preventable medical condition that can have serious implications for individuals with limited mobility. These painful and potentially dangerous wounds are a result of prolonged pressure on the skin and underlying tissues.
They often develop in areas where bones are close to the skin’s surface, such as the heels, hips, elbows, and the base of the spine. In this article, we will delve into the causes of bed sores and explore effective strategies for their prevention.
Causes of Bed Sores
Bed sores primarily result from the interaction of several factors. All of these varying factors can contribute to the breakdown of skin and tissue integrity. Key causes include:
The primary factor leading to bed sores is prolonged pressure on specific areas of the body. When a person remains in the same position for an extended period, the pressure restricts blood flow to the affected area. This leads to tissue damage and cell death.
Friction occurs when the skin rubs against bedding, clothing, or other surfaces. This can exacerbate the vulnerability of the skin, particularly when combined with moisture.
Shear occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions. For example, when a person slides down in bed or is positioned at an incline, the deeper tissues may slide in one direction while the skin stays in place. This action can tear blood vessels and damage tissues.
Excessive moisture from sweat, urine, or other bodily fluids can soften the skin, making it more susceptible to damage. Moist skin is also more prone to friction and shear.
Malnutrition or inadequate fluid intake can compromise the body’s ability to repair and maintain healthy skin. A lack of essential nutrients can weaken the skin’s integrity, making it more susceptible to pressure-related injuries.
Individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility are at higher risk of developing bed sores. Without the ability to shift their weight or change positions, pressure on certain areas of the body remains constant.
Nursing Home Abuse
One thing to note is that sometimes the nurses are unaware of your discomfort and that results in bed sores. But other times, it’s due to neglect. For example, the patient isn’t being cleaned up properly after bathroom visits, resulting in moisture and/or unsanitary conditions that create bed sores.
Or the nurse is not feeding the patient well enough or often enough. This results in bed sores as well. Perhaps the caregivers are tired or there aren’t enough of them, and they are giving sedation for care, not properly securing the patient or even dropping them. All of which result in injuries, long periods of sleep, and in turn bed sores.
If you suspect that your loved one (or yourself) is suffering from bed sores due to neglect from caregivers, then it’s time to contact a lawyer and consult them about nursing home abuse law.
While a bed sore can be distressing and painful, it is largely preventable with proper care and attention. It’s important to prevent a bed sore before it causes an infection or worse.
Here are some effective strategies for preventing bed sores:
Regular Position Changes
Encouraging regular shifts in body position is crucial. For individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility, caregivers should assist in repositioning the person every two hours to relieve pressure on vulnerable areas.
The use of specialized support surfaces such as pressure-relieving mattresses, cushions, and pads can distribute weight more evenly and reduce pressure on specific body parts. It might take an additional expense to get these items for your home or at the hospital, but it’s well worth it.
Keeping your skin clean and dry is essential. Gentle cleansing with mild soap and water, followed by thorough drying, helps maintain skin integrity. Moisturizers can be used to prevent excessive dryness.
Keep an eye on your body and keep feeling things out to ensure everything stays dry and refreshed.
Proper Nutrition and Hydration
A balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for skin health. Adequate fluid intake also ensures that the skin remains hydrated and more resistant to damage. Considering most Americans are walking around dehydrated, it’s important to take in enough fluids all day long.
Mobility and Exercise
Even for those with limited mobility, gentle range-of-motion exercises can stimulate blood flow, maintain muscle tone, and reduce the risk of pressure ulcers. No need to even start doing yoga or Pilates. Gentle stretching and mild movements of the body are more than enough.
Use of Cushions and Pillows
Placing pillows or foam cushions under bony prominence can help alleviate pressure. Caregivers should pay special attention to areas like the heels, elbows, and hips.
Patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals should be educated about the risk factors and prevention strategies for bed sores. Awareness can lead to early intervention and better outcomes.
Regular skin assessments can help identify early signs of skin breakdown. Redness, warmth, or changes in skin texture are indicators that warrant attention.
Loose-fitting clothing made from breathable materials can reduce friction and promote better air circulation, keeping the skin dry and healthy. If you are given a hospital gown that’s too tight or uncomfortable, make sure to get a bigger, better-fitting size right away.
Patients should be encouraged to communicate discomfort or pain to caregivers. Addressing discomfort promptly can prevent unnecessary prolonged pressure.
Don’t ever feel like you are disturbing the nurses or being a nuisance. If you have a situation that needs their help, ask them right away. You don’t want to suffer from bed sores or worse, because you were too shy or anxious to ask for solutions right away.
Bed Sores – You Don’t Have to Live With Them
There are many reasons why you might have bed sores (or your loved ones might). But there’s no reason to live with them. They are preventable with a bit of extra care.
If you suspect nursing home abuse though, it’s time to take action. Contact us at (706) 724 – 1882 so we can speak to you about your options. Don’t delay!