Gangrene refers to the death of body tissues due to infection or lack of blood supply. Wondering how to prevent gangrene? Scroll down to find out more on what causes gangrene and how this life-threatening condition can be prevented.
The death of body tissue due to lack of oxygen supply is medically referred to as necrosis. One is diagnosed with gangrene when necrosis affects a considerable mass of the tissues of the body. More often than not, parts of the body that are located in the extremities are affected by this condition. Since the life-giving oxygen, nutrients as well as immune cells are supplied to various parts of the body through blood, conditions that affect the blood supply may make one susceptible to gangrene. This is the reason why individuals who suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes or atherosclerosis are definitely at an increased risk of developing this life-threatening condition.
Gangrene occurs when the blood supply is affected, which in turn, affects the body’s ability to heal the tissues that may have been damaged due to trauma, crush injury, frostbite or severe burns. If the wounds or injuries are left untreated, the affected part of the body may get infected by pathogens. Infection by strains of Clostridium bacteria often give rise to necrosis. In severe cases, the affected body part may have to be amputated. The need for gangrene prevention therefore cannot be stressed enough. There is a great need to create awareness about the risk factors for gangrene along with guidelines on how to prevent gangrene.
Types of Gangrene
Gangrene is categorized into dry gangrene, wet gangrene and gas gangrene. While dry gangrene is characterized by dry, discolored and shriveled skin, the affected body tissues appear to be moist and swollen in case of wet gangrene. While dry gangrene commonly affects those suffering from peripheral vascular disease, diabetics are at a risk of developing wet gangrene. Gas gangrene is caused by Clostridium perfringens bacteria, which produce gas, which in turn, spreads the infection to the surrounding tissues at a fast rate.
In absence of medical treatment, wet gangrene and gas gangrene can give rise to life-threatening situations. Thus, one must immediately seek medical help on noticing the symptoms of gangrene. In the initial stages, debridement of necrotic tissues may help in preventing the infection from spreading further.
However, in severe cases, wherein gangrene is not diagnosed and treated in the initial stages, amputation of the affected body part, may be the only treatment option. Thus, a timely diagnosis and treatment is extremely essential for saving the affected body part from amputation. The best way to avoid such a situation would be seek medical help at the earliest. If you see skin changes or any other signs of infection in wounds or the injured area of your body, consult a doctor immediately.
Ways of Preventing Gangrene
As mentioned earlier, diabetics as well as those who have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis come under the high-risk group. Well, these people need to be extremely careful, others must also follow preventive steps. Untreated wounds increase the risk of a gangrene infection, one must therefore pay attention to the aspect of wound care. Given below are some ways in which gangrene can be prevented.
A wide range of medical conditions are caused due to the unhealthy lifestyle choices we make. Smoking, tobacco use and excessive consumption of alcohol are some of the habits that make one susceptible to vascular diseases. Gangrene usually affects those who suffer from peripheral vascular disease or diabetes. Those who have unhealthy dietary habits or live a sedentary lifestyle are more susceptible to developing diabetes. Obesity is another risk factor for diabetes.
Thus, keeping a tab on weight, and following a healthy diet, would certainly prove beneficial. If one has already being diagnosed with any of these diseases, one must comply with the guidelines given by the doctor. Since frostbite is one of the common causes of gangrene, those who live in cold regions, must protect themselves. Smoking or any activity that can adversely impact the blood circulation must be avoided.
Caring for a wound is the best way to prevent gas gangrene. Deep cuts, severe burns and any other kind of wound must never be left untreated. In a majority of cases, wounds that are left unattended, can get infected with bacteria, thereby increasing the risk of gangrene. Thus, one must seek medical help. The wound must be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide or any other antibacterial solution. Application of an antiseptic or antibiotic cream will also help in preventing gangrene. The wound must not be left uncovered. One must change the dressing as and when needed.
These were some of the instructions on ways to prevent gangrene. In absence of prompt medical treatment, gangrene could become life-threatening. If such a medical emergency arises, doctors may be forced to amputate the affected part of the body. Whether you belong to a high-risk group or not, there’s a great need to treat this condition at the earliest.