The silent disease found in nursing homes – and how to prevent it

August 04, 2012
Volume 3    |   Issue 60

If you or a loved one ever has to stay in a nursing home, hospital, or other long-term care facility, you must know about a silent disease that’s running rampant in these facilities. If you know about it ahead of time, you can take action to prevent it in most cases.

The disease is bedsores. They affect 10% of all hospital patients. They can cause severe pain. They are highly susceptible to infection. And treating them is difficult and expensive.

What’s more, specialization in these facilities has increased your risk. We now have nurses, surgeons, infectious disease specialists, general practitioners, and internists. But not one of these is well-positioned to look for early signs of bedsores and make the necessary changes. So they often creep up on you without anyone noticing.

Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce the occurrence of bedsores.


If you know you (or your loved one) are going to spend a lot of time in bed, don’t skimp on the mattress. Insist on a pressure reduction foam mattress, as these can greatly assist in prevention. New research shows that the cost of the mattress pales in comparison to the cost of treatment should you get bedsores.

But that’s not all you should do. Another study found that taking eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can significantly reduce your risk. In the study, the researchers took 100 patients and divided them into two groups. One of the groups took these two essential oils (along with vitamins A, C, and E). The other group took a placebo.

When they compared the two groups after one week, all of the patients had bedsores. But those who did not take the supplements had 60% more sores than the group that did take the oils.

Bedsores occur when the skin and underlying tissue doesn’t get enough oxygen. When you stay in one position too long, it squeezes the blood vessels and reduces circulation to those areas. This deprives these areas of the oxygen they need. This is why the mattress is important. It reduces the crimping of the blood vessels.

The essential oils and vitamins help because they improve the oxygen flow to these areas by a full 50%. That’s enough to decrease the number of bedsores you get. Coupled with the mattress, you can significantly decrease your risk of getting these painful sores.

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You’ll find EPA in fish and fish oil supplements, such as Daily Omega. GLA is in evening primrose oil and borage oil supplements. You’ll find ample GLA in Advanced EFA Formula. Anyone confined to a bed might want to consider taking both of these supplements to make sure they’re getting enough oxygen to their skin.

Your insider for better health,

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.


“A diet enriched in eicosapentanoic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and antioxidants in the prevention of new pressure ulcer formation in critically ill patients with acute lung injury: A randomized, prospective, controlled study.” Clinical Nutrition (Elsevier), Published on-line ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2007.06.010.

Singer, P., M. Theilla, H. Fisher, et al. “Benefit of an enteral diet enriched with eicosapentaenoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid in ventilated patients with acute lung injury.” Critical Care Medicine, 34(4):1033-1038, April 2006.

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