What does malnutrition have to do with healing wounds & infections?
Malnutrition is the most often missed piece of the wound healing puzzle. So many patients have come to us with non-healing wounds and we are surprised to learn that their nutritional state has never been discussed or even looked at by other physicians.
Ensuring that your body has enough protein, carbohydrates and fats is essential to wound healing. In addition, the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fat must be in certain proportions in order to get your non-healing wound to heal, despite other medical treatments that you may need. Malnutrition can occur without the patient looking malnourished!
When someone has a non-healing wound like a pressure ulcer, that person needs to eat three times the amount of protein in order to keep up with the body’s demands. In this example, the body is in a constant state of effort in trying to heal the wound, even though it’s not visible from the outside. It’s as if your body is running a race, all day long, trying so hard to recruit all of the necessary biochemical protein-based processes such as collagen formation, oxygen delivery, etc., that are needed in order to heal its wound.
Surprisingly most people cannot eat the high number of calories that may be required. In these instances, parenteral nutrition (PN) is used by the feeding the person intravenously, bypassing the usual process of eating and digestion. The person receives a nutritional formula that contain nutrients such as glucose, salts, amino acids, lipids, vitamins, minerals as well as the correct proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
In states of malnutrition, the body begins to break down muscle for energy. In person with a non-healing wound, this begins a “no win” cycle, as their body now enters into a catabolic state: their protein is used for energy vs. the normal anabolic state where protein is used for structure and function.
This is a difficult cycle to break, but at Encompass HealthCare & Wound Medicine, we can help diagnose and reverse malnutrition. Call our office at 248-624-9800. For more information on this, read expert Dr. Bruce Ruben’s Woundsource article “Why Protein is Important for Healing Wounds.”
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