Many people refer to them as bedsores, and they are more serious than many of us realize.
Pressure injuries are caused by unrelieved pressure and often occur when a person is sitting or lying down for a long time. And that means a lot of people are at risk if they have health conditions that leave them in either of those positions for a long period of time.
While they are under-recognized, pressure injuries cause significant problems for the people affected by them. “They are a huge burden for people in terms of negative quality of life,” says Marlene Varga, Pressure Injury Prevention Coordinator. “They are often painful, can cause other complications and tend to restrict people from participating in activities.”
But the good news is most pressure injuries are preventable.
What are the top risk factors for a pressure injury?
They can be dangerous
A pressure injury isn’t just uncomfortable—it can be dangerous.
“They can be extremely serious because a lot of people can develop complications, including infections,” Marlene says. “They tend to be chronic and hard to heal.”
If the wound becomes infected, it can spread throughout the body and even go into the bone and bloodstream, which can be life-threatening.
“A lot of people have pressure injuries that don’t heal quickly. They live with these injuries for years,” says Marlene. “These injuries sometimes never heal.” And this can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
The most critical step is to relieve pressure from the affected area. A healthcare provider can make some suggestions that work best, such as a better mattress, and may apply a dressing to the wound to keep it clean.
Don’t wait to seek medical attention
If you or your loved one notice a pressure injury or suspect one may be developing, it’s important to see a healthcare provider right away.
“Even something small in the skin can turn big and bad quickly,” Marlene says. “Some people get them very quickly, even within hours."
Prevention and awareness are key
“Pressure injuries are primarily preventable,” Marlene says. “The challenge is once we see visual signs of redness, it’s often too late. Early assessment and intervention are key.”
Have a story to share about health care? An idea for an article? We value all contributions.