What is a diabetic wound?
One of the most common complications associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is delayed wound healing. If left untreated, wounds can lead to infection, amputation, and even death. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation in the United States. Despite a clear need, there are very few treatments available that are consistently effective in accelerating wound closure in people with diabetes.A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that occurs in approximately 15 percent of patients with diabetes and is commonly located on the bottom of the foot. Of those who develop a foot ulcer, 6 percent will be hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complication.
Who do diabetic wounds typically affect?
Anyone who has diabetes can develop a foot ulcer. Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and older men are more likely to develop ulcers. People who use insulin are at higher risk of developing a foot ulcer, as are patients with diabetes-related kidney, eye, and heart disease. Being overweight and using alcohol and tobacco also play a role in the development of foot ulcers.Ulcers form due to a combination of factors, such as lack of feeling in the foot, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation (such as friction or pressure), and trauma, as well as duration of diabetes. Patients who have diabetes for many years can develop neuropathy, a reduced or complete lack of ability to feel pain in the feet due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time. The nerve damage often can occur without pain, and one may not even be aware of the problem.
Vascular disease can complicate a foot ulcer, reducing the body’s ability to heal and increasing the risk for an infection. Elevations in blood glucose can reduce the body’s ability to fight off a potential infection and also slow healing.
What are the common symptoms of a diabetic wound?
Because many people who develop foot ulcers have lost the ability to feel pain, pain is not a common symptom. Many times, the first thing you may notice is some drainage on your socks. Redness and swelling may also be associated with the ulceration and, if it has progressed significantly, odor may be present.
What are the traditional treatments for diabetic wounds?
- Prevention of infection
- Taking the pressure off the area, called “off-loading”
- Removing dead skin and tissue, called “debridement”
- Applying medication or dressings to the ulcer Managing blood glucose and other health problems
Appropriate wound management includes the use of dressings and topically-applied medications. Products range from normal saline to growth factors, ulcer dressings, and skin substitutes that have been shown to be highly effective in healing foot ulcers.
Why are diabetic wounds amenable to oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective at healing wounds and, in turn, reducing the risk for amputation, particularly for those who have diabetes. Wounds need oxygen toheal properly, and exposing a wound to 100 percent oxygen can, in many cases, speed the healing process.
What benefit can I expect from Oxygen therapy for diabetic wounds?
Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy helps wounds heal more quickly. How quickly depends on several factors; overall health, depth and size of the wound and whether or not the wound is infected. Hyperbaric oxygen can improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the affected area. This helps new granulating tissue to form. The wound will become pinker, less painful and smaller in size.
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