Why is a Patient’s Hydration Level Critical to Healing Bed Sores?

By Nursing Home Law Center

Desert

Though widely accepted in the medical community as an essential component of good health, proper hydration is critical for patients who need to heal existing bed sores. Adequate hydration is critical to for multiple functions in the body that are particularly important in patients with existing bed sore such circulation, liver function, and optimum functioning of the immune system.

When the body is adequately hydrated, the body can dissolve and assimilate nutrients, vitamins, minerals and glucose necessary to heal wounds. Further, proper hydration helps the body get oxygen and other vital nutrients to organs needed during times of stress on the body– such as an open wound or bed sore.

A patients hydration needs should be calculated on an individual basis. A general rule of thumb for most patients daily fluid needs is 1 ml of liquid per kcalorie consumed or 1/2 to 2/3 oz. per pound of body weight. Additional fluids may be required in patients with bed sores who also have the following conditions:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Decreased urine output
  • Changes in skin turgor
  • Elevated serum sodium / calculated serum osmolality
  • Heavy sweats
  • Diarrhea

The most accurate method in evaluating a patients hydration level is to conduct an urinalysis. The most simple method is to look at the urine color, which uses a color scale to compare to the urine– the darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are. Other, more scientific urine tests, such as urine specific gravity, urine osmolarity, and urine color are only minimally better at determining hydration level.

While there’s certainly no magic bullet when it comes to healing bed sores (also referred to as pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers), caregivers must recognize the heightened need for proper hydration in order to maximize the chances of an individuals recovery from bed sores.

Additional Resource

The Link Between Tissue Oxygen and Hydration in Nursing Home Residents With Pressure Ulcers: Preliminary Data. Journal of Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing, Stotts, N. A. Hopf H., 30(4) 184-190, July 2003.

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