This is a wellness colum that appeared in the Sep. 20, 2012 Daily Mining Gazette.
Proper wound care is an important health concern, but often is overlooked or dismissed by patients.
One rule to abide by is that by the 30-day mark of an open sore on your body, it should be visibly healing. If it's not, at this point, it's no longer an open sore. It has become a chronic wound.
This is an upsettingly common problem, and is especially prevalent and dangerous among diabetics. In some situations, ulcers can become limb- or life-threatening.
At the Portage Health Advanced Wound Care Center we often see people who have been ignoring or dealing with such sores for months upon months without professional guidance.
They're toughing it out, hoping for the best.
As a professional in the field, I can tell you that is not a good idea.
In many situations, giving it more time will cause nothing but more problems. Some of these problems are serious.
If a wound worsens to extreme levels, a patient may develop an infection that leads to amputation. Three out of four lower-body extremity amputations to diabetic patients began as non-healing ulcers.
It can get worse. Some ulcers have five-year mortality rates as high as 55 percent.
That mortality rate is worse than colon cancer, which has a five-year rate just under 50 percent. Colon cancer is considered one of the more dangerous forms of cancer.
Health care is often about being proactive, and an open sore that isn't healing is no different. Getting treatment early on can make all the difference.
Our team will provide a comprehensive assessment of the problem. We have physical therapists and physical therapist assistants who have extensive wound care-specific certification, training and experience, diabetes and lymphedema experts and access to Dr. Jonathon Brueggeman, a podiatrist with specific interest, education and experience in wound care.
After assessing the issue, our staff provides specialized tests, treatments and dressings that will promote healing, and see patients through the entire healing process.
Much of what we do with patients is educate them on the situation they're in. After an initial meeting, our team will continue to work with a patient until they've improved. If needed, we can provide surgical options.
At the advanced wound care center, our goal is to help patients get back to the life they were living before the open sore became a chronic wound. The best way for a patient to fully heal is to be proactive. At 30 days, call your family doctor. Talk to them openly about the symptoms you're dealing with and work toward moving on with your life.
Editor's note: Dr. Wade Liston, DO, is the medical director of the Portage Health Advance Wound Care Center in Portage Health's main location in Hancock. On Sept. 13, Liston was the expert presenter at the "Wild on Wounds" annual educational conference in Las Vegas. Learn more at portagehealth.org/liston.