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Bed Sores
October 2002

Q. My grandpa is confined to bed and does not walk or turn as he is paralyzed. He is 82 years old and has bed sores. It is very painful for him and I have seen him cry. The nurses have placed some wool near the sore parts, but the problem just gets worst. Do you have any advice on how to lessen the pain or solutions to stop the sores?

A. You have identified a common and serious problem that affects large numbers of patients with limited mobility. Known as bed sores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers, great effort must be made at prevention as treatment is difficult and complications of infection are potentially life-threatening. The sores occur from direct pressure, often over areas with bones near the surface and little natural "padding" such as the hip, tailbone, and feet. The prolonged pressure leads to the skin breakdown and exposure of deeper tissue. Complications are more likely if their is moisture due to limited control of urine or bowels in an affected patient. Prevention can involve measures such as frequent re-positioning in the bed or chair, special mattresses providing low pressure, special padding to prevent pressure and friction, and optimal nutrition to preserve tissue strength and infection-fighting ability. And breaks in the skin should get early medical attention for treatment.



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