What You Can Do to Help a Wound Heal Faster
Early treatment is the key to healing, because the longer a wound is open, the more chances a complication will develop.
Following the advice of your medical provider is very important although many patients find it is difficult if it affects their daily activities.
“It is essential that people with diabetic foot ulcers to take the pressure off of their wounds to allow them to heal, says Sonya Clark, RN, Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse at the HCMC Wound and Ostomy Clinic. “Wearing specially made orthotic insoles or special footwear can help decrease the pressure on a wound,” she says.
“Some patients may develop wounds from swelling or venous leg ulcers and their provider may recommend wearing compression stockings. I understand that stockings can be uncomfortable, but they are necessary for the wound to heal,” says Clark. “There are different types of offloading devices and different types of compression devices that we can offer to make wearing them easier.”
Every surgery is different and therefore the instructions after surgery may be different. Follow your surgeon’s instructions on when to change your dressing and when you can shower or get the wound wet. Notify your provider immediately if your incision is not healing or there are changes. Don’t try to treat the incision yourself at home,” says Clark.
“Some wounds are uncomplicated, and your primary care provider may be able to help manage the treatment. But if a wound has not healed in a month, it is time to ask your provider for a referral to a Wound Center,” says Clark.
“Henry County Medical Center’s Wound Clinic can provide advanced care such as compression wraps, negative pressure wound therapy, biologic products, and a variety of dressings and treatments,” she explains. Clark also stresses the importance of washing your hands before and after touching your wound or incision.
Just like vegetables in a garden, you must have the right environment for your wound to heal. Your body is your healing environment so if underlying medical conditions are not treated properly you may not heal.
Poorly controlled blood sugar levels and cigarette smoking are the most common barrier to wound healing that Clark sees in the Wound Clinic. “Both of these can stiffen and narrow arteries which will decrease blood, oxygen and nutrients to the wound,” she says. “Other factors can also affect healing and include inadequate nutrition, uncontrolled edema, and certain medications.”
“By far the best advice I can give is to prevent a wound from occurring, and different patients need different prevention,” Clark says.
Some patients need to avoid swelling in their legs, others need to control their glucose levels, and some patients may need to avoid sitting in one area too long to avoid bedsores. Once you have a wound, it is important to care for it properly. Avoid hydrogen peroxide, betadine, and over the counter antibiotic ointments unless recommended by your provider. In some cases, these can actually prevent your wound from healing.
“Don’t use scissors, clippers or other sharp objects on your feet to cut off skin or trim callouses,” Clark says. “Never take chances when it comes to your wound. If you see signs of infection, notify your provider and ask for a referral to Henry County Medical Center Wound Clinic. The sooner you receive care, the sooner you will heal and return to your normal activities.”
Learn more about Sonya Clark, RN, CWOCN and the Ostomy Care services at HCMC Wound and Ostomy Clinic
Baby Steps: How to Protect and Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy
Thinking of adding a new little bundle of joy to your family? Then it’s time to get your body baby-ready.
“In fact, one of the best times to do an inventory of your health and catch up on general preventive maintenance is before you try to get pregnant,” says Dr. Pamela Evans, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Paris Women’s Center.
“Pre-conception health should be a routine part of primary and preventive care,” she says. “Having a general exam and Pap smear, along with a few blood tests, is an excellent idea prior to conception.”
Depending on your overall health and any specific medical conditions you have, your physician may recommend making some changes in your lifestyle or medical care.
“Sometimes a change in medication is needed, or [disease] management altered,” says Dr. Evans. “Diabetes should be very carefully controlled in pregnancy, and some blood pressure medicines are preferred over others.”
Your pre-pregnancy weight is another important factor in ensuring the long-term health of both you and your baby-to-be. “Being near your ideal body weight before conception can prevent problems during pregnancy and delivery,” says Dr. Evans. “Being heavier increases the chance of miscarriage, c-section rates, diabetes and infections.”
It’s also a good idea to review your health insurance to see if your policy covers normal prenatal care, childbirth and potential complications for you and your baby, and if you are allowed to choose any physician or hospital you prefer.
“Avenues for excellent prenatal care are always available, and consistent prenatal care can ease anxiety during pregnancy,” Dr. Evans says.
Baby on Board
Once you even suspect you’re pregnant, seeing a physician is a must. “Most doctors recommend you see them eight to 10 weeks after your last period,” Dr. Evan says. “Now we can do genetic testing as early as 10 weeks, so if you wait until 12 weeks you miss that first window.”
Those early tests include blood work and detailed ultrasounds that can indicate the risk of Down syndrome or Trisomy 18, both conditions caused by chromosomal defects.
In addition to regular doctor visits throughout your pregnancy, physicians stress the importance of keeping your body in top condition by eating a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit and lean meat; limiting caffeine; and continuing a regimen of prenatal vitamins. Dr. Evans advises pregnant women to avoid eating fish that could contain high levels of mercury, such as tuna, shark, swordfish and mahi mahi, and to make sure that all fish is properly cooked. Fresh water fish and shrimp do not have these risks.
Staying active can also help ensure your good health during pregnancy. “Most pregnant women can safely continue their regular fitness regimens—preferably 30 to 40 minutes per session—as long as they warm up, cool down and don’t become overheated or dehydrated,” says Dr. Evans.
“I tell my patients that if they have a regular exercise routine, they can usually continue it at the same level,” agrees Dr. Evans. “Activity will slow naturally as your uterus grows. Women who exercise and walk throughout their pregnancy have smoother deliveries and shorter labors.”
Following diet and exercise guidelines has the added benefit of making it more likely that you’ll maintain a healthy weight throughout and after pregnancy. “If a patient is at her ideal body weight at the start of the pregnancy, we recommend that she gain 20 to 30 pounds over the course of the pregnancy,” says Dr. Evans. “But if the patient is obese, we recommend minimum weight gain—the baby will ‘steal’ from the mom what it needs.”
“Remember, when pregnant, you really need to eat for ‘one’ healthy mom, and the baby will have everything it needs. We truly do not recommend eating for ‘two’ during a pregnancy. Consider breast feeding your baby to help your baby, and also to maintain your weight postpartum,” Dr. Evans says.
Taking care of yourself is essential to taking care of your baby too. Even if you’ve missed a few steps along the way, it’s important to begin to optimize your health and lifestyle habits as soon as possible.
“It is much better to start late rather than never,” says Dr. Evans. “Many factors that may adversely influence the health of your baby can be modified or even eliminated during prenatal care.”
6 Ways to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy
- Visit your physician for an exam and consultation.
- Take prenatal vitamins that contain 400 to 800 mg of folic acid.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
- Get as close to your ideal body weight as possible.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Stay active.
Meet Pamela Evans, MD, OB/GYN of the Paris Women’s Center
Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Eggplants are high in antioxidants, may lower overall cholesterol, and help improve blood flow.
2 Japanese eggplants
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 medium summer squash
1 medium red bell pepper
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, pitted black olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked brown rice, optional
Slice the eggplants 1/2-inch thick. Slice the onion 1/2-inch thick. Quarter the squash lengthwise. Cut the bell pepper into 1/2-inch pieces lengthwise. Brush the eggplant, onion, bell pepper and squash lightly with oil. Place in a vegetable basket and grill on a hot grill. Remove the onion, bell pepper and squash after 10 minutes or when browned and tender; remove the eggplant after 12 minutes or when browned and tender. Coarsely chop the grilled vegetables. Place in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives, basil, Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Toss with cheese. Spoon rice onto 4 plates, if desired. Top with ratatouille.