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Pressure sores, also known as bedsores and pressure ulcers, are typically found on people who are bedridden at hospitals and nursing homes. At the same time, it’s the responsibility of the establishment to ensure that every patient avoids these sores. This has become an epidemic, and it’s often considered a sign of poor care at a medical facility. Some studies even suggest that bedsores are more common than they were several years ago, and the problem is only getting worse.Causes of Bedsores
Age is one of the biggest risk factors. Older adults and seniors have much thinner skin than younger people, which makes them more susceptible to damage from being immobile. Patients who are over 70 years old are especially at risk, but anyone can develop bedsores if the medical facility doesn’t properly take precautions.
A poor diet can also put you at risk since your skin and the surrounding tissue won’t be strong enough to avoid damage from being bedridden. People who don’t get enough zinc, protein and vitamin C are especially at risk.
Urinary and fecal incontinence is another risk factor that significantly increases your chances of developing bedsores. The urine and feces will keep your skin overly moist, which makes it more likely to break down. Not only that, but urine and feces are caustic enough to make you more susceptible to bedsores.
Other risk factors include living in a nursing home, having diabetes, smoking and lack of pain perception.Stages of Pressure Sores
There are technically four stages of bedsores. The first stage starts as a small red bump that is not blanchable. The area might hurt if touched, and it’s typically either firm or soft. This can be hard to detect in people with darker skin tones.
The second stage is either a blister or a shallow open ulcer with a pinkish wound bed. There won’t be any bruising or sloughing, and the ulcer may look shiny or dry. The sore will often be fairly painful at this point.
The third stage is characterized by complete tissue loss in the affected area. Subcutaneous fat might be visible, but muscle and bone won’t be exposed. Slough can be present, and there might also be tunneling or undermining. The depth will vary by location. For example, a bedsore on the arm shouldn’t be as deep as one of the back or buttocks.
Stage four is very similar to stage three, but there will now be exposed bone, muscle and tendon. The sore can extend into surrounding tissues and cause further damage under the skin. There is also a significant chance of infection due to the exposed tissue.
There are also some bedsores that have so much brown, yellow or green slough that the stage can’t be determined. If this happens, then the slough must be cleaned and removed before the bedsore can be characterized.Complications Encountered in Patients With Advanced Bed Sores
Gangrene is a major complication that can happen around stage three or four. This will cause the death of surrounding tissue, and often leads to either amputation or death. Tissue will deteriorate and form toxins until it is removed from the body.
Sepsis is a deep infection that can quickly become fatal if not properly treated. Getting early treatment will typically result in a full recovery, but waiting too long can lead to lasting complications or death.
The bones may also become infected, which causes osteomyelitis. Your bones will hurt whenever you use them, and they also become significantly softer even if the infection is treated.
Necrotizing fasciitis, or the flesh-eating virus, is most common in those with deep bedsores. This disease is vey difficult to cure, and it will result in permanent changes regardless of how much it spreads.