Burn Complications

Burn complications are a major cause of illness and death among burn patients. Burn complications may arise from the burn wound itself, or from the body’s vulnerability during the treatment process. To prevent burn complications, it is crucial that burn victims receive adequate burn injury treatment that begins immediately after the burn occurs.

Burn Injury Infection

Burn injury infection is one of the most common burn complications. The skin acts as a main protection against infection. In burn victims, the skin is severely damaged or dead, leaving the body susceptible to airborne pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Additional types of burn infection may occur due to the use of tubes and catheters. Bladder catheters may lead to urinary tract infections. Breathing tubes may lead to respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Sepsis from Infection

Sepsis is a complication that often results from severe infection. Sepsis causes the patient’s body to become inflamed as a reaction to the infection-fighting chemicals produced. If left untreated, sepsis will leads to organ failure and death.

Blood Complications

Burn complications may affect the patient’s blood supply or circulation. Patients with excessive blood vessel damage may develop hypovolemia, which can lead to shock. Blood clots may occur in bedridden patients during the healing process.

Low Blood Volume

Hypovolemia, or low blood volume, is a burn complication from damaged blood vessels. As a result of blood vessel damage, excessive fluid loss may occur. This fluid loss leads to a decrease in the patient’s blood volume. In severe cases, the heart cannot pump a sufficient amount of blood to the body.

Blood Clots

Patients who suffer severe burns are more susceptible to developing blood clots in the limbs. This occurs due to the extended periods of bed rest required for burn recovery. Bed rest can interfere with normal blood circulation, resulting in collections of blood in the veins that form blood clots. The longer a patient is bedridden, the higher the risk of developing blood clots.

Long-term Burn Complications

Patients may experience long-term physical and psychological burn complications. These complications last well after the burn is initially treated and managed. Burn therapy is an important tool to help minimize these burn complications and help the patient return to normalcy as soon as possible.

Physical Burn Complications

Physical burn complications develop as the burn wound heals. Burn scarring occurs in virtually all burn cases that are severe enough to require medical treatment. In third and fourth degree burns, scarring may be severe and lifelong. In cases where the burn injury occurs over joints, the patient may experience joint mobility issues. This occurs when healing skin contracts, or pulls together. As a result, the patient has a limited range of motion in the affected area.

Psychological Burn Complications

Severe burn patients, especially children, may develop psychological trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the burn event. Depression and anxiety are also common. Patients with scarring or disfigurement may develop a disturbance in self-esteem, self-image, and feelings of worth. Burn patients often undergo psychological therapy to help reintegrate back into society after the burn wounds heal.




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