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Nutrition in Wound Healing

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

Nutrients - Fluid

glass of water

Water is a chemical compound consisting of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms (Anderson, Keith, Novak and Elliot, 2002). It is the main constituent of the body, with approximately 45 litres being present in the average person.

It is constantly being lost through urine, faecal matter, sweat, and through the lungs during breathing. In order to balance this, fluid must be consumed. (Wrong, 1993)

Foods high in Fluid

The average person consumes just less than half of their fluid intake through drinking liquids. The remainder of the fluid intake comprises of water absorbed from solid foods, with a small amount of water being gained through chemical reactions within the body (Wrong, 1993).

Whilst any drink contains water, the individual should be aware that drinks such as alcohol or those containing caffeine have a diuretic effect and so will not necessarily maintain hydration (Kemp, 2001).

Nutrients role in the body

Fluids Role in the body

Water is vital to life and has a number of roles within the body. These include:

Due to the importance of fluid within the body, individuals should be encouraged to ensure an appropriate intake of fluid, which Kemp (2001) suggests is approximately 2 litres.

However for some people, fluid intake should be less than as recommended above. Can you think of any occasions when intake should be restricted. Discuss this with your mentor.

Signs of nutrient deficiency / overdose

Signs of Fluid deficiency / overdose

Water imbalance tends to create an imbalance of electrolytes as well. Due to this, water imbalance can cause a number of detrimental effects upon the body.

Water depletion can lead to: Excess fluid can lead to:
  • Fragile skin.
  • Slow wound healing.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Renal complications.
  • Stroke.
  • Loss of consciousness and death if severe.
  • Signs of overhydration:
  • Oedema, which can reduce the amount of nutrients to the wound.
  • Hypertension.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Confusion.
  • Convulsions.

(Kemp, 2001, McLaren, 1992, Wrong, 1993)

Fluid overload can occur due to a number reasons. One reason could be when a post-operative patient is given high amounts of IV fluids. Can you think of any other reasons why the body may have an excess of water?

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