Each year in July, Wound Awareness Week is a great way to get people talking about chronic and hard to heal wounds with their health professionals, and to get more information about how to treat them. Wounds come in different shapes, sizes and severity, so here is some useful information as well as some early warning signs* to help you get the care you need as early as possible.
What are Chronic Wounds?
The problematic wounds we're going to discuss today are chronic wounds. These kinds of wounds have either not progressed through the normal stages of healing, or are doing so at a much slower pace (longer than a month to heal). Other complications involve the wound only partially healing, or wounds that become torn again after they have initially healed. Chronic wounds are almost always the direct result of an underlying disease or illness, and require special care. It's important to not only treat the wound, but to seek professional medical attention for the underlying cause.
Symptoms of Non-Healing Wounds
While many wounds will heal on their own over time, below are some warning signs on non-healing or chronic wounds. If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to be seen by a doctor or another health care professional.
Pain and heat: Wounds that are red, swollen, hot to touch and very painful
Odour: Wounds with a strange or unpleasant smell
Excess Fluid: Wounds that have a thick, yellowish fluid
Risks of Leaving Wounds Untreated
The main risk of leaving wounds untreated is the increased risk of infection. Infections can begin as a localised infection, but can quickly spread and become systemic or whole body infections. This is a serious infection and symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The chemicals released into the body to fight the infection can indirectly damage many organs causing them to fail. If these symptoms present themselves it is important to see a doctor urgently.
In other circumstances, the wound can become very deep and if left untreated can begin to affect muscle tissue and expose the bone. While there are many treatment options available, amputation may be required to save a person's life.
It's important to remember that with the right treatment, chronic wounds can heal. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, see your health professional without delay.