Diabetes affects millions of people in the U.S. The CDC estimates that almost 10 percent of the population suffers from the disease. Such a large number afflicted magnifies the health implications and burdens of diabetes. Someone living with diabetes is at risk for significantly more health-related problems than someone living without the ailment. With diabetes, even little things can cause substantial harm. Minor injuries, like cuts and scrapes, can turn into something much more serious without the ability to produce insulin. When the body lacks insulin it can't turn glucose into energy. High glucose levels can also impede healing, too. Understanding wound care for diabetics is essential to dealing with the disease.
Glucose vs. Healing
When it comes to diabetic wound healing, glucose is the problem. It comes down to how high glucose levels affect the entire body. While it seems innocent enough, high blood sugar suppresses what the body needs for healing.
Both white and red blood cells play a crucial role in wound healing. White blood cells fight off infection while red blood cells help transport oxygen and nutrients needed for healing. If either cell falters, the healing process slows down. High glucose levels inhibit oxygen intake. In other words, your cells--red, white, and tissue--can't receive the oxygen they need to operate correctly. The healing process slows down and the immune system's response weakens. High glucose levels also cause cell inflammation, further inhibiting your cells' ability to heal your body.
Diabetes damages the nerve cells. Specifically, scientists believe high levels of triglycerides, a blood fat, have a detrimental effect on nerve health. Over time, high glucose levels cause nerve damage called neuropathy. Nerves breakdown and blood vessels deteriorate. This nerve damage causes diabetics to lose sensation wherever the damage occurs. Without sensation, diabetics can't feel the pain of cuts and scrapes. The wounds then become infected and cause serious damage. In some cases, such as foot ulcers, neuropathy can even lead to amputations.
Higher glucose levels lead to a build-up of fat deposits outside the heart and brain. More commonly though, it's seen in the neck, arms, belly, legs, and feet. The deposits build up inside arteries and ultimately restrict blood flow. In severe cases, the blood flow stops completely. Narrow blood vessels make it difficult for red blood cells to deliver oxygen and nutrients to healing tissues. High glucose levels also thicken the blood, further slowing blood flow to damaged tissue.
Wound Care for Diabetics 101
Wound care for diabetics starts with proper administration. Care will vary depending on the location and severity of the wound.
Similar to any wound, assessing its severity will determine how to administer care. Deeper wounds require different care than shallow wounds. Cuts are different than developed ulcers. Start by looking at the wound. Is it bleeding? Scabbed over? An ulcer? Is there feeling in that area of the body? Scabbed wounds only require monitoring. Ulcers are old wounds, and numb areas indicate the potential for an older wound as well. Bleeding wounds are usually new, but ulcers can bleed as well.
Initial wound treatment involves removing any dead or dying tissue from the wound and surrounding area. Tissue dies when it doesn't get enough blood and oxygen. Dying tissue saps blood flow from the live wound, slowing the healing process. An experienced professional can remove the tissue with a scalpel. Individuals should not remove tissue at home.
After removing any necrotic tissues, you have to recognize and prevent infection. Generally, active infection isn't hard to recognize. Red, inflamed tissue or pus are the main indicators. However, developing infections aren't as obvious. Luckily, new infections are usually treated the same way as infection prevention. Dry the wound, apply a disinfectant (silver sulfadiazine, bacitracin-zinc, Neosporin ointment), bandage the wound, and then monitor it's healing while routinely changing the bandages. Serious or deep wound infections need professional help. In severe cases, stronger antibiotics can help keep infection at bay while the body heals. This is especially true for deeper ulcers that have gone untreated.
Moisture content is essential in wound care for diabetics. Too moist or too dry an environment impedes an already stunted healing process. Though keeping the moisture content around a happy medium helps. Change the bandages frequently. Then blot the wound or add ointment as needed. Take proper care to change bandages at least once a day. Wounds with infection require frequent changes and reapplication of antiseptics or antibiotics.
Making Wound Care Easy
Wound care for diabetics isn't complex. It only requires a little know-how and the right tools. You'll need access to bandages, wrappings, antiseptic ointments, and rubbing alcohols. While not hard to obtain, even medical professionals need to get their supplies somewhere. Using a medical supplier is the easiest way to make sure you're well stocked with medical supplies. If you're in the market for medical supplies for diabetic wound care, or other types of medical care, get in contact with us. We're a leading medical supplier with the tools to help you handle any situation.
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Created with a vision of helping customers in anyway possible, Save Rite Medical CEO, Marc Kaplan, created the company and has grown it to become the leading internet provider of medical supplies. Through valuable products to educational information, Save Rite Medical is your number 1 resource for medical supplies.