Category: Cancer

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Organic Food Slashes Cancer Risk

Organic Food Slashes Cancer Risk

A new study of almost 69,000 people finds a significant reduction in the risk of developing cancer among people who eat an organic diet. Lymphomas, the cancers commonly found in people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), were reduced by a whopping 76%. The risk reduction is 86% for Non-Hodgkins lymphomas. Overall cancer risk was reduced by 25% when compared to people who never consume organic foods.

The study gathered data from 68, 946 French organic food consumers between 2009 and 2016. Participants reported their consumption frequency of labeled organic foods (never, occasionally, or most of the time).

The research team hypothesized that lower exposure to pesticide residues on food is the reason for the dramatic decrease in cancer. This is supported with a body of research showing that organic crops have lower levels of pesticide residues, and that eating organic food decreases your exposure to pesticides.

This is the first study on such a large scale to find such clear support of organic foods. The well-designed study allowed the research team to follow up with the 68,946 participants over several years to see how their food choices impacted cancer risk, while controlling for confounding variables like dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors.

Research-Based Support For Organics

Research linking organic diets with a lower impact on health is becoming more common.

    • <li “”=”” class=” style=”>One study of just over

35,000 Norwegian women

    • found mothers who ate organic food during pregnancy decreased the risk of certain uro-genital birth defects. <li “”=”” class=” style=”>Other research on reproduction found that eating fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues was associated with a

lower total sperm count

    • and a lower percentage of normal-looking sperm among men presenting to a fertility clinic.  <li “”=”” class=” style=”>Eating high–pesticide residue fruits and vegetables was

associated with a lower probability of clinical pregnancy and live birth

    in a study done at a fertility clinic associated with a teaching hospital. Compared with women who ate less than one serving/day of non-organic fruits and vegetables, women eating more than two servings/day had an 18% lower probability of pregnancy and a 26% lower probability of live birth.

There is no disputing that cancer is becoming an epidemic in the US. It is diagnosed in new patients over a million times per year and is estimated to kill over 600,000 people in 2018 alone.

It just makes sense to do whatever we can to reduce our risk of cancer. Eating organically is, in my opinion, the hands-down simplest way to do this. But what about you? Is eating organic beyond the limits of your food budget?

charcoal woman's eye CU

Kitchen Spice Stops Cancer Stem Cells

I recently came across a study published in 2014 that found the common kitchen spice, turmeric and its prime constituent curcumin, had a surprisingly effective effect on cancer stem cells (CSCs).

Why this information was not made more public than the medical newsletter Cancer Letters is clear only when I consider that there is no “real” money to be made from a root that has been used as a spice for hundreds of years. 

person inside MRI machine

Nixon signed the National Cancer Act in 1971. Since then, over a hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money has been spent on research and drug development in an attempt to eradicate the disease. Trillions more are spent by the cancer patients themselves and through insurance. But after more than four decades of waging full-scale conventional (surgery and chemo) and nuclear (radiotherapy) war against cancer, one in every four Americans will be diagnosed with cancer each year. 

I’ve long known about curcumin as an anti-inflammatory and use it daily for my osteoarthritis, as well as for the central nervous system inflammation that is part of myalgic encephalomyelitis, the ME part of ME/CFS. But let’s talk about cancer in this post.

CSCs Are The Mother Of Cancer

Conventional models of cancer (the mutation theory) assume that the majority of the cancer cells within a tumor possess the ability to grow and self-renew to differing degrees. The CSC model proposes that CSCs, actually a minor population of all cancer cells, are the tumor growth engine. CSCs undergo continuous self-renewal and have the ability to change into different types of cancer cells, just like other human stem cells. No other cancer cell type has this capability. 

In other words, CSCs are at the top of all cells within the tumor and are the “mother” of the various daughter cells that make it up. Furthermore, most of the cells derived from CSCs are not lethal. Therefore, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery aimed at removing these “daughter” cells are wasted.  The goal is to eradicate the stem cells, not the relatively harmless cancer cells they create.

In the study, conventional treatment with chemotherapy and radiation (tested by a rodent model with a 2-year experimental window to evaluate treatment efficacy and safety) was unable to identify the CSC-mediated cause of post-treatment tumor recurrence. This recurrence, which in humans can take decades after initial treatment to manifest, is usually more invasive and resistant to conventional treatment. 

dead leaf

Although it’s possible to reduce (debulk) a tumor with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, CSC populations were often missed or even enriched as a result. When the tumor regrew it often results in the rapid death of the patient. Unfortunately, most of us are only too aware of family and friends who “survived” one cancer only to succumb, years later, to metastasis of cancer cells.

Turmeric and curcumin extract have been and continue to be extensively researched for their ability to kill various cancer cell lines.  The number of published studies is so abundant that it is disheartening that so many people who need safe, effective and affordable treatments are not given any information about it. 

Curcumin Is Ideal Cancer Therapy

Emerging evidence suggested that the dietary agent curcumin exerted its anti-cancer activities via targeting cancer stem cells of various origins such as those of colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, and head and neck cancer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24851881

The study identified a number of ways in which curcumin provides an ideal CSC therapy, including:

  • Regulating CSC self-renewal pathway. Curcumin appears to influence at least three self-renewal pathways within cancer stem cells, namely, Wnt/b-catenin, sonic hedgehog 89 (SHH), and Notch. The authors list 12 difference cancer cell lines which curcumin appears to positively affect.
  • Modulating microRNA. These are short, non-coding RNA sequences that regulate approximately a third of the human genome. Curcumin degrades or inactivates cells by binding to messenger RNA (mRNA) within the cell. The way curcumin alters the expression of microRNAs in cancer stem cells suggests a strong suppression of tumor formation.
  • Direct anti-cancer activity. Curcumin has the ability to selectively kill cancer cells versus healthy cells and works with conventional chemotherapy agents, thereby making them more effective and, in some cases, less harmful.

“Curcumin, as well as its modified forms (analogs or nanoparticle-encapsulated formulations), has shown great potential to inhibit CSCs in several types of cancer both in cell cultures and in mouse models, including glioma, breast, colorectal, pancreatic, brain, and esophageal cancers. Some analogs (e.g., CDF) and formulations (e.g., nanotechnology-based formulation) have exhibited improved efficacy against CSC-like cells and greater growth-inhibitory capacity in tumors.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24851881

There are over 800 studies on turmeric/curcumin in the national published medical research database, known as PubMed. The safety and tolerability of all the available human research on curcumin in human cancer studies found no cause for concern. Curcumin, in addition to being a natural Ayurvedic remedy for thousands of years, is well tolerated and caused no significant toxicity in clinical trials.

Unfortunately, none of the research I cited earlier identified the amount of curcumin used in cancer therapy. However, I found guidance on this site. https://integrativeoncology-essentials.com

Pharmacologically, curcumin has been found to be safe. Human clinical trials indicated no dose-limiting toxicity when administered at doses up to 10 g/day. All of these studies suggest that curcumin has enormous potential in the prevention and therapy of cancer.  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12680238

According to Brian D. Lawenda, MD, an integrative oncologist trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Helms Medical Institute at Stanford-UCLA, and founder of IntegrativeOncology-Essentials, curcumin is considered to be a safe supplement, food additive and spice (by the U.S. FDA.)

Side Effects and Interactions

That said, Dr. Lawenda noted a number of potential side effects, drug interactions, and contraindications that you should know about:

  • Curcumin may cause an upset stomach. Dosages of 6g daily have been associated with minor flatulence and a yellowing of the stool. I take between 1,500 and 3,000 mg/day in two divided doses. I especially noticed this when my irritable bowel syndrome was raging on the diarrhea side. After probiotic therapy that replenished my microbiome, I no longer see this.
  • There is a risk of exacerbating existing gallbladder disease. Curcumin causes smooth muscle contractions, which will make it painful if you have stones in the bile duct.
  • May increase the risk of bleeding (due to platelet inhibition) when combined with other medications or botanicals like aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners), antiplatelet drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin ®, Ale®), Gingko biloba, garlic, saw palmetto.
  • May cause uterine stimulation (caution is recommended during pregnancy)
  • May decrease the effectiveness of cancer drugs like cyclophosphamide and camptothecin.
  • People with GI disorders or predisposed to kidney stone formation should also use this supplement with caution.

How Do You Take It?

Oral curcumin is poorly absorbed from the bowel. However, the absorption can be increased when it is given with piperine (an extract from black pepper.) Simply adding piperine to curcumin has been shown to increase curcumin absorption by 2000%!

Taking curcumin with meals can increase its absorption (especially fatty/oily foods: olive oil, avocado, fish oil, milk, seeds, etc.)

salmon-with-carrots

Newer formulations of curcumin are available with greater absorption characteristics (i.e. complexed with piperine, nanoparticles, liposomal formulations, etc.) Watch out for curcumin supplements that do not contain the amount listed on the bottle.

Consumer Labs tested 22 products and recommends only four that met or exceeded their minimum requirements–like containing the amount listed, and not containing heavy metals or insect fragments. Two of the recommended brands are not available on Amazon, but are listed in their review (see link at the start of this paragraph). The brands they, and I, recommend are: Doctor’s Best High Absorption Curcumin and NOW Curcumin.

Curcumin is rapidly cleared from the blood (within 1-4 hours of ingestion, most of it is cleared.) To maintain blood levels of curcumin, it is best to take it in divided doses throughout the day. Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-respected integrative medicine practitioner, recommends taking curcumin derived from whole turmeric three times per day.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the optimal dosing. That said, doses from 500-3600 mg of curcumin per day have been used in recent studies.

For cancer prevention, Life Extension recommends 400-500 mg per day. During and after cancer treatment, they suggest 800-3,000 mg per day (divided dose, with meals containing some form of fat).

If you want to take turmeric instead of curcumin, here’s how to do it. One tablespoon of dried turmeric powder weighs 6.8 grams. The average amount of curcumin (by weight) in turmeric powder is 3.4%. So, 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder is equal to 6.8 grams x 3.4% = 0.231 grams or 231 milligrams. Therefore, if you want to take 500 milligrams of curcumin per day, you will need to consume approximately 2 tablespoons of dried turmeric powder.

As with any supplement, please first discuss your interest in using curcumin with your oncology team or primary care provider before you start taking it.

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Netflix “Afflicted” Series Deliberately Misrepresents Chronic Illness

The stars of the new Netflix series, Afflicted, are up in arms about how their conditions were misrepresented. The documentary series follows six people living with chronic illnesses.

A Los Angeles-based documentary company, Doc Shop, which works with National Geographic, CNN, Discovery, A&E, AMC, and Travel channel, produced the series.

According to all of the people portrayed in the documentary, the producers promised them a compassionate look at chronic illness. Every participant in the series had to have a diagnosis from a physician and be determined mentally healthy by a behavioral health specialist before filming started.

The participants collectively responded in an article posted on Medium. Individually, others wrote blogs about their experience or posted a live YouTube video.

We were all told that we would be participating in a project that would show our lives and our struggles with illness through a “compassionate lens.” We participated because our diagnoses are misunderstood and stigmatized. We thought that revealing some of the most intimate moments of our lives would lead to greater public understanding. We hoped that with it might come investment in research to find biomarkers and better treatments. We never fathomed that we were participating in a project that would instead expose us and our communities to further ridicule and disbelief.

MediumThe Truth Behind Netflix’s ‘Afflicted’

I stopped watching the series after the first episode because it was so clear that the producers went for sensationalism over realism. They consistently showed the people suffering from severe conditions as mentally ill and having psychosomatic illnesses.

Jamison Hill, a writer with ME, wrote a blog post about his experience.  

One such episode was devoted to “Identity,” suggesting that those of us with chronic illnesses spend so much time in poor health we become consumed by the lifestyle and don’t know how to live any other way, which is a completely asinine point to make. It’s unfair to categorize people like this because they “become” their illness. If giving all of your surplus energy to try to make yourself better is “becoming” an illness, then sure we “become” it, but if we’re talking about finding some sort of clandestine enjoyment or comfort in living as a sick person because we don’t know how to live any other way, well, that’s one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard; that’s not us.

https://jamisonwrites.com/2018/08/20/netflix-and-hill-the-true-story-behind-afflicted/

Jake Sidwell, who has chronic Lyme disease, posted an hour-long YouTube video about the making of the show and how unfortunate the experience has been. In it, he discusses questions posed by people who saw the documentary. 

Scientists with deep knowledge of the research literature — including several from the Open Medicine Foundation’s “Community Symposium on the Molecular Basis of ME/CFS” at Stanford, which the film crew did shoot — were either not interviewed or their interviews ended up on the cutting room floor. Instead, Afflicted frequently relies heavily on the skeptical voices of “experts” who have no relevant professional or academic expertise in our diseases.

MediumThe Truth Behind Netflix’s ‘Afflicted’

“Acknowledging” skepticism doesn’t make people take us more seriously, especially when the evidence of their biological basis – both my abnormal lab results and the broader research – is purposefully excluded. There’s a big difference between acknowledging the skeptical perspective and, say, devoting three entire hour-long episodes to psychobabble sound bites about it, which is precisely what the producers did.

https://jamisonwrites.com/2018/08/20/netflix-and-hill-the-true-story-behind-afflicted/

Did you see Afflicted? What was your reaction to it?

The IoT Device Disabled People Are Waiting For Is Here–On Sale!

The Internet of Things (IoT) already is making life easier for tech-savvy folks with disposable income. However, many of the devices you can set from a smartphone aren’t always useful for those of us who are home all day. The IoT just wasn’t practical for many people with chronic illnesses–until now.

Amazon has developed a hands-free, voice-activated device disabled woman in wheelchairthat does just about everything someone who is confined to bed or a wheelchair could want.

The Echo Show is a great idea for someone who is disabled, has a fatiguing illness or is otherwise unable to use their hands. I do not own one of these devices, but I’m seriously considering buying it next Monday when Amazon has its Prime Day sales.

Here’s why I think this would be great for anyone who is disabled. With the Echo Show, in no particular order of importance, you can:

  • Watch Amazon Video content
  • See music lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi
  • Play music simultaneously across Echo devices with multi-room music (Bluetooth not supported)
  • View security cameras. Ask Alexa to show the front door or monitor another room with compatible cameras from Amazon and others
  • See your photos
  • Get weather forecasts
  • Just talk to make to-do and shopping lists
  • Browse and listen to Audible audiobooks
  • Call almost anyone hands-free
  • Make video calls to family and friends with an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App
  • Instantly connect to other Echo devices around your home
  • Stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more
  • Turn on lights or the TV, set thermostats, control Amazon Video on Fire TV, and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices

Plus, Echo Show will get smarter and be adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Allrecipes, CNN, and more.

All hands-free—just ask the device.

The Echo Show has powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response. With eight microphones, beamforming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing.

FLASH: we don’t have to wait for Prime Day since they are on sale now!

I get a small affiliate fee if you purchase after clicking the ad.

Your loved one is ready for discharge–but are you?

Are you ready for your loved one to come home from the hospital or rehab facility?

Here are seven things to consider before the big day.

Equipment: Will you need special medical equipment, called DME (durable medical equipment) like a hospital bed, oxygen, a commode, toilet seat riser and grab bars, a bath chair, bathroom handrails, a hand-held shower attachment, transfer aids, and mobility aids like a quad cane, or a walker? Ask the nurses who give the daily care what you will need at home and have them arrange it before the homecoming. Make sure it is all ready to go and in place on the discharge day. Oxygen canisters can be kept outdoors even in the hottest/coldest climates, but the bulky oxygen generator has to be plugged in somewhere inside the house.

Routines: what changes to the daily schedule will be needed to accommodate rehabilitation or comfort care? If you don’t already have one, get a large wall calendar where you can keep track of medical appointments whether coming to you or going to them. You should receive a list of all medications and times at discharge. Sometimes there are so many things at different times during the day and night that it will be easier if you make a chart. Then you can check off when pills, inhalers, and treatments are taken. Will you need to transform the living room into a bedroom for a short time?

Home Health nurses and aides: Be sure to talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner about ordering home health care. Physical therapy is often ordered for a short time, as well. In most cases, there will be at least one visit with a registered nurse to help you get things set up. He or she can also be a resource for any and all questions. The nurse can help develop that medication chart if you are confused about it, too. Also, a home health aide may be available to help with showering or bed baths. These decisions are dictated by Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance regulations, so each situation is unique.

Household chores: Finding the time and energy to house clean and take care of the yard or do snow removal will be much more difficult while you are a full-time caregiver. Consider hiring help either from one of the many home care agencies like Visiting Angels, Seniors At Home or Safe At Home that provide light housekeeping and personal care. Craigslist can also be a source for help, but don’t forget to ask friends and neighbors.

Safety: You may need to remove throw rugs, fasten down area rugs, install handrails on stairs, and generally remove clutter. Look carefully at anything that would interfere with a mobility aid like a walker or cane. If there will be oxygen, then a sign needs to be fastened to the front door warning there is no smoking in this house. This means no candles, either. Doorways may need to be widened if a wheelchair will be needed long-term.

Extra assistance: Someone who can pick up a prescription or get a few things at the grocery store for you will be invaluable. If you don’t have a support network close at hand, look into home delivery options.

Family Medical Leave/state programs: Medical leave is an option for people with full-time jobs that ensure the position will remain open while you take time out to care for a loved one. Talk with your human resources manager about eligibility. Some states have programs that will pay caregivers and provide funds to modify the home to accommodate medical needs. Call your county Aging, Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for information and help if your loved one is elderly or disabled.

Professional care managers are available in larger cities. For a fee, they will help with whatever is needed. Some of the areas where a care manager can assist are helping you plan and get to doctor’s appointments, helping navigate insurance and healthcare decisions, and communicating with your family and medical team. They can arrange for and schedule additional paid in-home help and set up a simplified medication regimen. Find them through a hospital or rehab facility, ADRC or use a search engine to “find care managers near me”.

Was this helpful? Tell me what you want to know.

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Ten Wound Care Techniques For Home Caregivers

Back when I was a home health nurse I loved the challenge of caring for wounds. Once I helped a Korean War veteran heal an open sore on his ankle bone he said had been there since he was frost-bitten in 1954! Another challenging wound was a man with a pressure ulcer (bedsore) whose white knobby tailbone could be clearly seen after I removed the dressing.

wound care
Proper wound care at home is a cornerstone of recovery.

Remember Christopher Reeve who portrayed Superman until his neck was broken in a horse riding accident? He died because of a bed sore. The cause of death was an adverse reaction to an antibiotic he was taking for sepsis caused by his pressure ulcer. This can simplistically be thought of as a blood infection. However, sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body. This inflammation can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.

Although I love wounds, caring for open sores, whether caused by surgery, accident or sensation loss, is a major stressor for families and most (normal) people. Good wound care is a vital part of post-surgical recovery as well as keeping healthy and even alive. Proper wound care is necessary to prevent infection and to promote healing. 

What Causes Wounds?

Wounds occur when the skin is damaged because of injury. This may be the result of mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal, or even nuclear sources.

skin tear classification
Skin tears are common in elderly people, as is the bruising caused by blood thinners.

Skin is damaged in different ways depending upon the mechanism of injury. In all cases, inflammation (redness) is one of the first signs of injury.

Wounds are classified into types:

Superficial wounds (on the top surface layer of skin) are caused by friction rubbing against a rough surface, even something seemingly smooth like a bed sheet. They are known as abrasions or skin tears.  

Additionally, many seniors take blood thinners like Coumadin® and/or low dose aspirin with resulting “bruises” where blood vessels leak into the tissue just under the skin. These obviously need protection from opening up and require prompt attention when they do.

Deep wounds, such as those following surgery, go through the skin into the underlying tissue, like muscle and fat layers. 

Puncture wounds, usually caused by a sharp object entering the skin, could be as minor as a needlestick to give an injection or draw blood, or deep as a stab wound from a knife or similar sharp object.

Bites, whether human or animal, are classified as superficial or puncture wounds, depending on depth and size.

Pressure ulcers (bed sores) develop due to lack of blood supply to the skin. This is the result of chronic pressure on an area, especially over bones. This tissue compression causes a loss of blood supply to the area which increases skin breakdown. First inflammation and then sores develop when a person who is bedridden, sits for long hours in a wheelchair or has a cast pressing on the skin does not remove pressure from the area. Pressure ulcer prevention guidelines specify moving every 20 minutes to relieve compression.

Hospitals Discharge Patients ASAP

Hospitals are under tremendous insurance pressure to discharge patients as soon as possible after surgery. It’s a very confusing time for family caregivers with a discharge planner, a social worker and maybe even a wound care nurse all giving directions on the day of discharge. No wonder the many details involved in wound care are often forgotten or misremembered!

In most cases, if the wound is not considered complex, teaching is done at the time of discharge. A home health nurse will usually be assigned if the wound is complicated, such as performing wet-to-dry dressings several times each day. However, while a home care nurse keeps the patient as their primary concern, they are required to teach a family member–or a paid caregiver–how to change the dressing. Private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid will not pay for a nurse to stay in the home beyond a specified number of days after discharge.

skin layer graphic
A person who has lost sensation on the soles of the feet can easily develop an ulcer that is often difficult to heal.

In addition to surgical wounds, several other populations almost routinely (unfortunately) develop open sores that are specific to who they are. People who are unable to move in bed or in a chair easily often develop bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers. (Waaay back when I was just a nursing assistant, they were also known as decubitus ulcers.)  

Diabetics and other people with neuropathy can develop open sores in the areas with poor sensation, like feet and lower legs, due to not feeling an offending pebble in a shoe or a bump on the shin. Preventing more open sores is a vital part of home wound care.

Proper Wound Care Procedure

  1. If there is any pain or discomfort with dressing changes give the patient (I’m using patient as a stand-in for the wordier but politically correct terminology of “person with a wound”) pain medication about half an hour before starting. Medications can range all the way from acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to morphine. The nurse will be able to help you decide how much pain medication to give. If the wound is particularly worrisome for the patient, ask them to practice deep breathing relaxation exercises as you do the dressing change.
  2. Gather all the equipment you will need. This includes the tape and dressings needed, gauze squares, saline, ointments, wound packing material, clean or sterile gloves, and any other item(s) as instructed by the nurse. graphic of woundLay the materials on a clean surface in the order they will be used. Do not put dressing materials on the bed. This area is considered “dirty” from a wound care point of view–even if the sheets were just changed.
  3. WASH YOUR HANDS. Even when wearing gloves, it’s still important to cleanse your hands before and after touching a wound. Bacteria easily travel between your hands and the wound. You can use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Scrubbing hands to the tune of the Alphabet Song (♪A, B, C, D, E, F, G♫) ensures you spend enough time to do it correctly.
  4. Follow the wound care written instructions given at the time of discharge.
  5. Additionally, remove the old dressing only after you have all supplies ready to go and the patient is medicated for pain or discomfort. Wounds need a warm and moist environment to heal. Healing is postponed if the wound is left open to the air for even a minute longer than necessary. 
  6. Slowly lift the corners or edges of the dressing or tape. If it sticks to the skin, dab the edges with an adhesive remover, a moistened gauze pad, or a moistened paper towel.
  7. Hold down the skin surrounding the bandaged area. Gently and slowly remove the tape or dressing. Lift the tape across the skin rather pulling away from the skin.
  8. Lift the edges of the dressing toward the center of the wound, then gently lift it from the wound. If the dressing sticks to the wound, soak it with saline solution to help loosen it.
  9. Carefully place the old dressing into a plastic trash bag (or grocery bag) and tie it closed. Put that bag into a second plastic bag and throw it away. You can put all the packaging from the new dressing in the bag, too.
  10. Remove the gloves and wash your hands again.

Challenges With Chronic Wounds

Any wound that doesn’t heal easily and remains open for weeks after most similar wounds heal is considered chronic. These are among the most difficult to successfully treat. Chronic wounds can occur when:

  • surgical wounds reopen or don’t heal completely
  • when the skin breaks down because there is too much pressure over a bony area, called a pressure ulcer or bedsore
  • there’s injury over a vein or artery in an area with poor circulation, called a venous or arterial ulcer
  • there is a loss of circulation and sensation due to diabetes, called a diabetic ulcer

Many hospitals have specialized wound care clinics staffed by nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians. These health care providers are certified in wound care and work solely with these types of chronic wounds and ulcers. They have access to up-to-date research and technology, such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers and the latest wound care dressings. 

Remember, don’t forget to ask questions when the nurse is instructing you! Discharge planning has become an increasingly more important part of the hospitalization. Fines are levied for hospitals who have too many readmissions. And if the wound in question doesn’t require hospitalization, STILL don’t let the nurse get away until you have ALL your questions answered and concerns met.

I’d love to know what my readers thought of this. Was it too medical? Was it helpful? What else would you like to see me write about?