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Nutrition in Wound Healing

Resource to help raise awareness of the role of nutrition in wound healing

Causes of Malnutrition

In order to function the body requires a number of nutrients. Malnutrition arises when there is an imbalance or a deficiency of such nutrients (Lennard-Jones, 1992). There are three main ways through which malnutrition tends to occur. These consist of impaired nutritional intake, impaired absorption, and increased metabolic demand. Cartwright (2002) and Williams (2002) suggest a number of ways in which such problems can arise. These are highlighted in box 1.

Table showing predisposing factors for malnutrition and causes
Predisposing factors for malnutritionCauses
Impaired intake
  • Physical disability
  • Anorexia
  • Dysphagia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Taste changes
  • Poor oral health
  • Prolonged fasting
  • Medication
  • Anxiety / depression
Impaired absorption
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Malabsorption
  • Infection
  • Coeliac disease
  • Medication
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
Increased metabolic demand
  • Trauma
  • Burns
  • Fractures
  • Cancer and wasting diseases
  • Infection

Think about the patients you have cared for today. Have they had any of the predisposing factors that are highlighted in box 1? If so, has their nutrition been assessed?

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