What Chronic Medical Conditions Make a Person Susceptible to Develop Bed Sores?

Chronical Medical ConditionsMost people who develop bedsores usually do so because a large amount of pressure has blocked the blood flow to a specific part of the body. But certain chronic medical conditions also lead to, or facilitate, bedsores. The following are just a few of the conditions that make patients susceptible to bedsores.

Anemia

Despite having several forms, anemia commonly depletes the amount of iron in a person’s blood. The iron is necessary for producing red blood cells, which carry hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps transfer oxygen from the lungs to tissues around the body. If skin lacks oxygen, it cannot heal as fast, leading to the creation or facilitation of pressure sores.

Patients can manage anemia by consuming foods rich in iron, such as green vegetables, red meats, and legumes. Some patients also may need to take supplements to increase their iron levels and promote wound healing.

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the disease or disability of one or more peripheral nerves, which leads to a lack of sensation in certain parts of the body. A patient with neuropathy is unable to sense the pressure that he or she applies to a specific part of the body, which can contribute to pressure ulcers developing in the area. Neuropathic ulcers refer specifically to ulcers on the feet caused by muscle wasting from neuropathy.

People with neuropathy can heal neuropathic ulcers using contact casts that both relieve pressure and keep circulation in the area. Therapeutic shoes are also available to prevent the sores.

Dementia

Dementia is not necessarily a disease, but a group of symptoms associated with a decline of memory and mental skills severe enough to affect everyday life. People with dementia are prone to bedsores because they engage in risk factors for the condition. Some of the risk behaviors linked to dementia include:

  • Difficulty in movement
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Poor diet and dehydration
  • Lack of communication
  • Frailty
  • Incontinence

Caregivers of people with dementia must pay close attention to their actions and how they create bedsores, as well as any symptoms of the sore.

Spinal Cord Injury or Paralysis

People who have conditions such as a spinal cord injury or paralysis are incapable of movement and spend most of their time confined to a wheelchair or a bed. These patients are vulnerable to multiple pressure sore risk factors, such as:

  • Increased pressure on bony areas of the body due to inability to move
  • Friction and shear caused by wheelchairs or other equipment
  • Inability to feel pain or sores forming in the extremities

Patients and caregivers can prevent bedsores by keeping skin healthy and clean, maintaining a balanced diet, and using pressure-relieving surfaces such as special beds, mattress overlays, or wheelchair cushions. A caregiver also can reposition the patient on a frequent basis.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease where the abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and high levels of glucose in the blood are a result of the body’s disrupted ability to produce or respond to the insulin hormone. Patients with diabetes are vulnerable to pressure sores since diabetes usually causes the following conditions:

  • Neuropathy. A lack of sensation makes a pressure sore in a part of the body harder to notice. Poor blood flow. The deficient blood flow in an individual deprives certain body parts of nutrients, making them more vulnerable to pressure sores.
  • People with diabetes can use specialized pressure-relieving surfaces to keep the pressure away from any numb extremities. In addition, a healthy diet and cleanliness reduces the chance for pressure sores, as well as daily inspections by a caregiver.

If you or a loved one develop bedsores due to negligence at a nursing home or another health facility, contact Nursing Home Law Center LLC for a free consultation.

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