The impact of chronic wound healing on an individual’s quality of life
There are several ways in which a chronic wound can affect an individual’s quality of life. Physical health is affected when there is a lack of mobility due to their wound(s). There are also psychological effects like feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that come with dealing with a chronic wound for some time without improvement.
Keep reading to learn more about chronic wounds and how to heal them.
What is a chronic wound?
Chronic wounds are wounds that do not heal within eight weeks. Chronic wounds can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
People with diabetes, obesity, peripheral artery disease, poor circulation, or immobility are at increased risk for chronic wound development.
The most common types of chronic wounds are diabetic foot ulcers and venous stasis ulcers. These two types of chronic wounds are linked to high blood sugar, which causes peripheral vascular disease, and decreased blood flow in the veins, respectively.
Individuals who have a chronic wound may experience:
- Decreased mobility
- Inability to work or play sports
- Loss in quality of life
There are no definitive causes of chronic wounds but some theories include decreased oxygen in the tissue near the wound bed or increased bacterial colonization due to reduced circulation or removal of the body’s natural defenses against bacteria by antibiotics used to treat other illnesses.
What is chronic wound healing?
Chronic wounds are often slow to heal, have low levels of oxygen, and are difficult to keep clean. It is estimated that chronic wounds affect more than 12 million Americans with a cost of about $25 billion every year.
Chronic wounds are typically caused by diabetes or conditions that lower the immune system. The most common chronic wounds are diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous leg ulcers. Normally wounds heal on their own within a few weeks or months, but chronic wounds will not heal on their own and this means they need medical treatment.
While chronic wounds follow a similar treatment for healing as other wounds, they require greater attention, including special medications and frequent dressing.
The vast majority of chronic wound care treatments focus on removing the infection, which may include removing dead or inflamed tissue and stopping bleeding. Typically they will then apply an enzyme-based gel or ointment to help disinfect and heal the wound. The wound is then wrapped in dressage to protect it from infection or being hit.
The importance of quick and effective wound healing for the patient
The wound and healing process is not comfortable for patients. The faster the wound heals, the faster the patient will return to a state of comfort and being pain-free.
It is important to understand that the healing process for a wound occurs in three phases: inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling.
The first phase is called inflammation and this generally lasts one to two days. During this phase, injured tissue starts to swell, the blood vessels will dilate near the injury site and platelets will start to form a clot. The second phase is called proliferation. During this phase, the new connective tissue will develop at the wound site and new blood vessels will grow into it. This phase can last up to six weeks but usually takes about three weeks for full healing. The final stage is called remodeling. This stage can take months for full healing because it involves scar tissue formation that helps close wounds by holding them together until they heal completely without leaving any permanent markings on the skin.
By understanding the wound healing process, and working with a wound care specialist to aid the healing process from the onset, patients will experience less pain and heal faster.
Long-term effects of a chronic wound on the patient’s quality of life
The primary goal of chronic wound care is to heal the wound. However, if the patient’s quality of life is suffering because of their wound, it is important to address this and help them improve their quality of life.
The long-term effect of a chronic wound on the patient’s quality of life can be different for different people. Factors that influence this are:
- The type and size of the wound;
- Amount and location on the body;
- General health status;
- Length and depth in relation to the location on the body.
How to addresses the long-term effects of a chronic wound
The first step to take is to stop the progression of the wound by using a topical cream or ointment, such as silver sulfadiazine.
If you are unable to stop the progression of a chronic wound, then your next step would be to cover it with an airtight dressing. You can also use other dressings that are less likely to be rejected by your body and may not require additional care.
The conclusion: The best way to address chronic wounds is prevention. Correcting any underlying issues that may be causing it and making sure it does not get worse by applying topical treatments or airtight dressings as needed.
How to help patients achieve prompt, effective wound healing
Wounds are one of the most common problems in medicine. Common treatments for wounds can inflict more pain. This can be avoided by understanding how tissue repair works and applying that knowledge to treatment.
Tissue repair is a complex process that involves many different factors such as inflammation, immune cells, and blood flow. The first step in healing a wound successfully is acknowledging that it needs to be treated. The next steps are promoting a healthy environment for healing and choosing the right type of treatment for the wound’s severity.
Take the guesswork out of healing your patients’ wounds. Partner with American Wound Care Centers today to bring a wound care specialist to your facility.