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Friday, September 4, 2009

What are Bedsores ?

[Extracted from]

Bedsores are lesions which are typically caused by periods of prolonged immobility. A mild bedsore can generally be easily treated, but more severe sores can cause serious problems, and they require surgical intervention. Bedsores strike people who are bedridden, paralyzed, or dealing with other limited mobility issues, and prevention of bedsores is a major part of training for health providers who deal with at-risk individuals.

These lesions are also known as pressure ulcers, decubitis ulcers, or skin ulcers. If left untreated, bedsores can cause sepsis, cellulitis, gangrene, and deep infections of the bones and joints. Bedsores have also been linked with carcinoma and necrotizing fasciitis, an infection which literally eats away otherwise healthy tissues. People in wheelchairs or people who are bedbound are at risk for skin ulcers, as are long-term hospital patients, individuals in nursing homes, and people with conditions such as diabetes, which interferes with circulation.

There are three primary causes for bedsores. The first is simply prolonged pressure, which can cause bedsores to appear on places like hips and shoulder blades. Bedsores also form through friction and shear as the patient's body rubs against a bed or wheelchair. Active people rarely get such sores because they make small adjustments to their position throughout the day and while they sleep. Someone who has a limited range of motion can get a bedsore in only a few hours if he or she is positioned in a way which cuts off circulation.

There are four different stages of bedsores. A stage one bedsore manifests as an area of tenderness and mild inflammation, and it generally vanishes shortly after the pressure on the area is relieved. A stage two bedsore is characterized by some skin loss, forming an open blister or wound which is also discolored; with rapid treatment, this type of sore generally heals quickly. Stage three bedsores are deeper, while stage four bedsores can be extremely deep fissures surrounded by dead tissue. A stage four bedsore is also characterized by damage to the underlying muscle and bone, and it represents a serious medical problem.

There are a number of ways to avoid bedsores. The first is frequent positional changes such as turning, accompanied by the use of supportive pads which can reduce pressure on problem areas like the hips. Caregivers also need to carefully inspect their patients for the early signs of bedsores, and patients generally benefit from nutritional support and physical therapy as well.

Are bed sores painful ?

Yes. Bed sores can be excruciatingly painful due to the fact that they are essentially an open wound in the body and they frequently develop in areas where it is essentially unavoidable to put pressure (such as the back, buttocks or heels).

For this reason, even the most mundane everyday activities such as sitting, turning, lifting cleaning and dressing changes, can cause intense pain.

What is Septicemia ?

[Extracted from]

Septicemia is a serious medical condition characterized by inflammation of the whole body. It is caused by bacteria which enter the bloodstream, triggering an immune response which results in inflammation and a slow shutdown of the body's systems for handling infection. This medical condition can be deadly, especially if the patient is allowed to progress into the stage of shock, and onset can be alarmingly rapid. If septicemia is suspected, a patient should be taken to a hospital for immediate medical attention.

The causes of septicemia are quite varied. Typically, the patient is vulnerable because of his or her age or condition, and bacteria simply takes advantage of the situation. Surgery, latent infections, and burns can all lead to septicemia, which is one very good reason to monitor any infections to ensure that they do not spread. A case of septicemia starts with bacteria or toxins that they produce entering the bloodstream, resulting in a coagulation of the blood as the body tries to fight the bacteria.

A patient with septicemia tends to look very bad. The condition is marked by confusion, chills, sweating, a very high fever, weakness, a rash, and an elevated heart rate. Respiration is also often rapid, and the patient may turn pale as well. If the condition progresses, the patient's blood pressure will drop, and the bacteria will start attacking major organs of the body, including the brain, rapidly causing severe damage which can be very difficult to treat.

This condition is also known as “blood poisoning,” in a reference to the fact that the patient's entire vascular system is compromised. Some people also refer to it as sepsis, a term which actually refers to any sort of inflammation response as a result of infection. One of the primary treatments for septicemia is antibiotics, which are administered to kill the bacteria causing the condition. Transfusions of blood may also be utilized, along with dialysis and fluid replacement for patients suffering from diarrhea. Patients with severe septicemia may be put on life support to help them breathe and to stabilize their heart rates.

Prevention of septicemia is, of course, preferable to treatment. Unfortunately, many cases are hard to prevent, as this condition can strike unpredictably. Maintaining good hygiene and general health is a good way to start, because it minimizes exposure to bacteria and ensures that your body can resist bacterial infections when it is exposed to harmful organisms. If you have had surgical procedures, you should keep an eye on the site where the procedure was performed, and do not be afraid to speak up about soreness, swelling, and general discomfort. It is also important to receive medical treatment for deep cuts and puncture wounds so that these sites can be flushed and you can take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent sepsis and the potential onset of septicemia.