Thursday, 14 August 2014


Gangrene – Serious and Life Threatening Ailment

Gangrene is a serious condition and potentially a life threatening ailment which arises due to the loss of blood supply causing the body tissue to die.It can affect any area of the body though it starts in the toes, feet, hands and fingers but can also occur inside the body, damaging muscles and organs. This may be the result of an injury or infection or in those suffering from chronic health problem which may affect the circulation of the blood.

Primary cause of gangrene is reduced supply of blood to the affected tissues which end up in cell death. Long term smoking and diabetes could increase the risk of suffering from gangrene. Gangrene are of different types with different symptoms like dry gangrene, wet gangrene, internal gangrene, gas gangrene and necrotizing fasciitis where the treatment options would include debridement or in extreme and severe cases would be amputation of the affected part of the body, antibiotics, maggot therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and vascular surgery.

Some of the symptoms of this condition include redness and swelling in the affected part of the body, loss of sensation or severe pain, sores or blister in the affected areas which tend to bleed or produce foul smelling pus. The need to see a physician is extremely essential if faced with these symptoms.

Blood the Most Essential Element

Blood is the most essential element for health since it transports oxygen and nutrients to the entire body to feed cells, in delivering disease fighting antibodies which protects the body from various infection and when the blood circulation is not circulated effectively in the body, the cells are unable to survive resulting in infection and the tissue may die from gangrene.

Conditions affecting the blood stream flow could increase the risk of gangrene like atherosclerosis, peripheral arterial disease, trauma, Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition wherein the blood vessels supplying the skin tends to get narrowed down, besides diabetes and smoking. The two major type of gangrene are the wet and dry gangrene where several cases of dry gangrene are not infected while all cases of wet gangrene are considered to be infected by bacteria.

Wet/Dry/Gas Gangrene

Wet gangrene occurs with the complication of an untreated infected wound, resulting in swelling from the infection of the bacteria due to sudden stoppage of circulation of the blood flow. Due to termination of the blood flow, the tissues tend to react to the presence of bacteria which multiply and the disease fighting cells - the white blood cells cannot reach the affected areas resulting in becoming moist and wet and breaking down causing death of the tissues.

Dry gangrene is the result of reduction of blood flow through the arteries and appears gradually and the process is slow. In most cases, the affected area is not infected and in this type of gangrene, the tissues tend to become black and cold and begin to dry off. This condition is common in people with blockage of arteries known as arteriosclerosis which results from high cholesterol levels, smoking, genetic, diabetes and other factors.

Gas gangrene is another type of wet gangrene caused by bacteria known as Clostridia which are a type of infection causing bacteria that grow only in the absence of oxygen and as they grow they produce poisonous toxins and gas. Regular check-up are essential and quitting smoking followed by adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercises and low fat diet should be maintained to reduce the risk of this ailment.

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