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Diagnosing Infected Wounds: Care and Treatment

One of the major problems of a wound is the risk of infection. This occurs when infectious agents such as bacteria and fungus invade the wound site. In more severe cases, the infection might affect deeper tissues and organs.

There are several factors that can jeopardize wound healing, including obesity, smoking, being over sixty-five years old, steroid consumption (which has a weakening effect on the immune system), suffering from cancer, HIV or diabetes, inadequate nutrition, debris or dirt inside the wound, chemotherapy, circulation problems due to hypertension or obstructed arteries/veins.

It is important to be aware of the possible signs and symptoms that may appear once the wound has gotten infected. Some of them may include excretions such as blood or pus coming out of the wound, high body temperatures, skin around the wound site becoming red, dark, inflamed, or dry and unpleasant smells originating from the wound.

If any of these symptoms is present, do not hesitate to seek medical assistance right away. A specialist will be able to diagnose the problem and provide information and help regarding the right measures and treatment to follow. For the health professional, to determine if there is an infection, he or she will perform a couple of tests and examinations, to be more certain about the severity of the infection.

A skin culture can be performed by collecting skin tissue or sample fluids, to test if any bacteria or other infectious agents are present in the wound. Also, blood analysis may be ordered by the doctor. If the specialist suspects that there is damage to deeper tissue, debris, or dirt inside the wound, he or she will recommend a computed tomography (CT scan) or x-ray, to look for any of these. Make sure to let the doctor know if you are allergic to the contrast liquid, utilized in procedures such as CT scans.

If the doctor determines that an infection is already underway, then depending on the severity of the wound, the position of the wound, the status of your health and the amount of time the wound has been present on the skin, he or she will prescribe the right treatment, to get rid of the infection as soon as possible.

If a lot of pain and inflammation are present, the health professional will prescribe the right medication to help diminish the pain. Extreme care should be taken when treating the wound. It must always be cleaned well and if needed, a vacuum system might be recommended to remove blood or fluids that accumulate in the wound. All this promotes an expedited healing process.

In some cases, doctors may recommend the use of a hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This is a medical treatment that improves the body’s natural recovery process by breathing in 100% oxygen under increased pressure.

Surgery would be another alternative, in case debris, infected skin tissue or slough needs to be removed.

For a wound to heal faster and correctly, it must be well taken care of. The wound should always be clean and dry. Every time you take a shower, make sure to bandage the wound correctly and prevent it from getting wet. You should change the bandages regularly as instructed by the doctor. Follow all the recommendations given, as to when and how the wound should be cleaned, as well as what kind of products to use for the cleansing. Also, monitor your health status for possible problems such as hypertension, glucose in the blood or other health conditions that could hinder a fast recovery process.

Smoking can greatly interfere with the recovery process.  So, make sure to consult a specialist and ask for advice on how to proceed in this case. Electronic cigars and chewing tobacco contain chemical components such as nicotine which can similarly affect your overall health.

Nutrition also plays an important part in the wound-healing process. Be sure to include the correct foods in your daily diet to accelerate recovery. Foods recommended include, but are not limited to the following: Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, reduced fat foods, legumes, and fatless meats. Your doctor will inform you if any vitamins or supplements need to be added to your daily nutrition intake.  Remember to always consult your doctor about what foods are the best to ingest to have a faster healing process.

It is of utmost importance to seek medical help if you notice the following:

  • Unceasing Bleeding
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Tachycardia
  • Confusion
  • Excruciating pain
  • Red lines around the area of infection
  • High body temperatures
  • Shivering attacks
  • Numbness
  • Inflammation around the wound site

Keep in mind that the way you treat and take care of the wound as soon as it occurs, plays an important part in how well and how much time it takes to heal.

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