Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bedsores (pressure sores)

Bedsores, more accurately called pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are areas of damaged skin and tissue that develop when sustained pressure cuts off circulation to vulnerable parts of your body, especially the skin on your buttocks, hips and heels. Without adequate blood flow, the affected tissue dies.
Although people living with paralysis are especially at risk, anyone who is bedridden, uses a wheelchair or is unable to change positions without help can develop bedsores.

Bedsores can develop quickly, progress rapidly and are often difficult to heal. Yet health experts say many of these wounds don't have to occur. Key preventive measures can maintain the skin's integrity and encourage healing of bedsores.

Bedsores are easier to prevent than to treat, but that doesn't mean the process is easy or uncomplicated. Although wounds can develop in spite of the most scrupulous care, it's possible to prevent them in many cases.

The first step is to work with your nurses and doctor to develop a plan that you and any caregivers can follow. The cornerstones of such a plan include position changes along with supportive devices, daily skin inspections and a maximally nutritious diet.

Position changes
Changing your position frequently and consistently is crucial to preventing bedsores. It takes just a few hours of immobility for a pressure sore to begin to form. For that reason, experts advise shifting position about every 15 minutes that you're in a wheelchair and at least once every two hours, even during the night, if you spend most of your time in bed. If you can't move on your own, a family member or caregiver must be available to help you.

A physical therapist can advise you on the best ways to position yourself in bed, but here are some general guidelines:
  • Avoid lying directly on your hipbones. On your side, lie at a 30-degree angle
  • Support your legs correctly. When lying on your back, place a foam pad or pillow — not a doughnut-shaped cushion — under your legs from the middle of your calf to your ankle. Avoid placing a support directly behind your knee — it can severely restrict blood flow.
  • Keep your knees and ankles from touching. Use small pillows or pads.

  • Avoid raising the head of the bed more than 30 degrees. A higher incline makes it more likely that you'll slide down, putting you at risk of friction and shearing injuries. If the bed needs to be higher when you eat, place pillows or foam wedges at your hips and shoulders to help maintain alignment.
  • Use a pressure-reducing mattress or bed. You have many options, including foam, air, gel or water mattresses. Because these can vary widely in price and effectiveness, talk to your doctor about the best choice for you. For some people, a low-air-loss mattress may provide enough support. But more expensive and technologically sophisticated beds may be needed for people who have recurring pressure sores or who are at very high risk

    Pressure-release wheelchairs, which tilt to redistribute pressure, may make sitting for long periods easier and more comfortable. If you don't have a pressure-release chair, you or your caregiver will need to manually change your position every 15 minutes or so. If you have movement and enough strength in your upper body, you can do wheelchair push-ups — raising your body off the seat by pushing on the arms of the chair.

    All wheelchairs need cushions that reduce pressure and provide maximum support and comfort. Various cushions are available, including foam, gel, and water- or air-filled cushions. Although they may help relieve pressure, cushions and other devices don't prevent pressure sores from forming or replace the need to change your position often.

For products to help with pressure reduction click here.

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Tip #7 - Can supplements lower blood-pressure?

According to the Mayo Clinic, some dietary supplements may help you lower your blood-pressure to a certain degree. The following supplements are categorized by the strength of the scientific evidence that shows they lower blood-pressure. Be careful when taking supplements. They can do more harm than good if used inappropriately.

To learn more about how to use supplements correctly from the Mayo Clinic's High blood-pressure Center Click Here.