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Non-Healing Wounds

Updated on September 15, 2013

Diabetes and Chronic Wounds

Diabetes can be an underlying cause of chronic wounds. Sure, we all get cuts here and there, but if it doesn't heal in a few weeks then you have to assume that there is a reason for that. The reason that diabetes is a risk factor associated with long term ulcers is because when you have high blood glucose your blood vessels may become damaged and therefore, will impede wound healing. When you add other co-morbidities such as obesity and even neuropathy wound conditions can become severe because you won't even know you have it.

Managing your diabetes can be a simple process, but you must be proactive about it. Seek advice from your physician. He or she will probably ask you to change your diet. You must also exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. Drink plenty of water to aid in removing toxins from your body and if you're placed on medication...take it as prescribed.

Remember, when you have diabetes your body will have a harder time fighting off infection. The symptoms for diabetes are:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • blurry vision
  • feeling of fatigue
  • slow healing wounds
  • weight loss that is unexplained
  • numbness and tingling sensation of the extremities

If you think you might have diabetes then seek medical attention immediately. Leaving it untreated can lead to hearing impairment, loss of vision, hypertension and many other serious conditions that will affect your life.

Diabetic Ulcers are More Common than you Think

If you're a diabetic than chances are that when you sustain a wound it will heal very slowly or not at all. At least not without the assistance of professional wound care specialists. I have what is know as type II diabetes or pre-diabetes. I knew that my blood sugar was getting out of control when I cut my leg last year. It took over 3 weeks for the cut to heal. The cut was no bigger than a bug bite and because it itched...I scratched. After several weeks, I thought "what the heck is going on" and decided to check my blood sugar. I had my blood glucose tested at a local lab and got the results the very next day. And, the results didn't shock me because diabetes is in our family blood and I knew that my day would come some day. But, of course it's my goal to prolong the inevitable so I did something about it immediately. I changed my diet for one. No more pushing my luck with "wrong foods". I took better care of my skin and I also learned how to lower my risk of getting diabetic ulcers.

Even though sugar itself does not cause diabetes, minimizing your intake is beneficial for you. Your body may not be able to produce enough insulin on its own. Or, maybe the insulin it does produce is not being distributed throughout your body fast enough This is good reason to cut back on your sugar intake. When your blood sugar in uncontrolled your body has a harder chance of healing itself.

Diabetic ulcer formation can develop all of a sudden. These wound types are aggressive and generally will need frequent care to heal properly. They normally form in the lower extremities below the knees. Since our legs are below the level of the heart, blood flow can be minimized to this area. Especially if you have other health conditions such as poor circulation or obesity. If you attempt to heal your wound on your own and you do not produce effective results then get professional care. You may put yourself at risk of developing an infection that may lead to a more serious condition.

When to Seek Medical Care from a Professional

If you develop a wound and you're diabetic it will take some time for it to heal. You may want to start by keeping the wound clean. Simple soap and water will do. You should apply an anti-biotic ointment with a clean dressing and keep it covered for a while. If you notice that the wound won't heal on its own or that it may be getting larger as time goes by, then you will need to see a wound care specialist for treatment.

Beware of where you go for treament, though. Sub-standard wound care methods will not help you. Although some doctors claim to be wound care specialists, what they really specialize in is billing your insurance company for years of treatment. Do your homework before dedicating yourself to a wound care facility. Interview their own patients while waiting in the reception area. Ask them how their treatment is going for them. Generally, patients will be quite frank. For example, if you ask the question "how long have you been coming here?" and the answer is "for years", then you should seek care elsewhere.

You want to go where you know you will get results. You don't want to sign up for lifetime care if you don't really need it. If the facility uses only one or two methods of wound care then you may want to seek care at a more advanced wound care facility. Look for wound care centers that employ certified wound care specialists. And, those that collaborate with your own primary care physician. You may also want a wound care facility that offers multiple methods of treatment that include not only topical agents, but perhaps other options like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, growth factor and negative pressure wound vac therapies. Even physical therapy is important in wound care.

How your blood flows is extremely important in wound healing too. Simple non-invasive testing should be performed to evaluate your blood flow prior to any wound care. If you have swelling associated with your wound then both issues should be addressed simultaneously. Once you decide on a wound care facility don't tolerate mediocre treatment. If you are not satisfied with the treatment that you are receiving then say something and say it early on. Don't wait until someone tells you that they need to amputate your body parts to then file a complaint.

Put Yourself First

A final thought. Always keep in mind that your wound care specialist should always have your best interest at heart. You should be first. They should evaluate your medical condition to see why you have a non healing wound. Then they should work directly with your primary care physician to develop a plan that will work for your. Look for certified wound care specialists only. And make sure that their treatment is covered by your health insurance.

If even for one minute you are not satisfied with your treament or if you notice that the individualized care that you were receiving is now mediocre care then say something right away. Otherwise, you may end up seeing that specialist for many years and make no progress or get worse.


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    • justtizzielizzie profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebeka Knight 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you Peter for your comment. I agree that maggots are not a highly welcomed alternative to wound treatment, but it is a proven method. Kudos to your personal wound care specialist. Negative pressure therapy is a valuable and also proven treatment option for wounds not responsive to topical wound creams and should be considered more often.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you justtizzielizzie,

      What surprised me most about your well written article was the difference between UK and USA treatment. We don't have wound care clinics in the same sense, all wound care is treated either at an out-patients of the hospital or a visiting district nurse. There should be no excuse for slow treatment. I had a surgical wound roughly the width and depth of a golf ball in my foot. They used vacuum therapy and my wound regenerated and healed in 3 months and I am an insulin injecting diabetic. New and old fashioned treatment methods are now used including maggots which although gross little beasts are very effective on wounds that will not heal.

      Voted up, useful and interesting

      Kind regards Peter


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