It's a good thing we toss and turn in bed. That movement continually redistributes the pressure between our bodies and the mattress. If illness or injury prevents you from moving around, pressure builds up on specific areas of the body. This can cause skin and other tissues to die, creating a bedsore. A few simple steps, however, can help prevent these painful, dangerous, and costly sores, reports the November 2006 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
Bedsores, as with any other type of open wound, create a ready opportunity for infections that may spread to the surrounding skin, deeper tissue, bone, and the blood. They can also cause loss of fluid and protein, leaving patients dehydrated and malnourished. The cost of treating a bedsore is extremely high. According to one estimate, caring for a single, deep-tissue bedsore can cost upwards of $70,000.
Bedsores are the underlying cause of death of several thousand Americans each year. The good news is that the mortality figures have improved over the last 10 years because of improved prevention and treatment efforts. To treat a bedsore, keep it clean and covered. Dead tissue may need to be removed because it can interfere with the growth of healthy tissue. But it's much better to take steps to prevent the bedsores from occurring in the first place, because even if a bedsore heals, there is a good chance it will come back.
The Harvard Health Letter notes several ways to help prevent bedsores:
• Use dynamic or static mattresses and added padding
• Shift positions every so often
• Increase protein intake
• Moisturize skin.