Many factors from age to obesity can affect the wound healing process.

Healing wounds require the right dressings and specialized care for speedy and efficient recovery. However, there are a wide array of larger factors that come into play, many of which are beyond one’s control. Consider these major factors of wound healing and speak with your clinician about how they may inhibit (or help) the recovery process:

1. Age

According to an Advances in Skin & Wound Care report, older people tend to experience slower wound healing than younger populations. This is largely the effect of comorbidities that come with age. For example, compromises to the respiratory and circulatory systems can also slow the development of new tissue, and weakening of the immune system common in the elderly can lead to complications such as wound infection.

2. Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet with ample vitamins and nutrients fosters efficient wound healing. For example, the body requires a sufficient amount of protein to grow new tissue, iron to transport oxygen and fats to provide cells with energy, as St. Luke’s Clinic reports. Additionally, vitamins A and C as well as the B complex are essential for collagen formation and epithelialization. Even if one looks relatively healthy, he or she may suffer from malnutrition. As such, nutritional assessment may be necessary to ensure patients receive the proper nutrients and vitamins.

3. Body type

While a healthy body mass index can promote healing, having an excessively abnormal body type can hinder the process. Obesity can cause poor blood circulation, starving the wound bed of oxygen and nutrients essential for tissue formation. As noted in Advances in Skin & Wound Care, the link between obesity and malnutrition may also pose a problem. On the other end of the spectrum, people who are too thin may experience slower wound healing as well due to malnutrition.

4. Chronic conditions

Many chronic diseases have a direct impact on the body’s natural ability to recover. Cardiovascular conditions are among the most detrimental: Coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease and other issues with the heart and vessels can cause obstructions that hinder the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrition to the wound site.

Another major condition that affects wound healing is diabetes. According to the Wound Care Centers, high glucose levels associated with this metabolic disorder can narrow the blood vessels and stiffen the arteries, decreasing blood flow to the affected area. Additionally, loss of sensation in the feet caused by diabetic neuropathy can make it difficult to tell when one has developed an ulcer or infection, increasing the risk of amputation. In the case of a chronic condition, a patient’s condition should be closely monitored by a clinician during recovery. Medication and treatment changes may be needed to speed up healing and reduce the risk of infection.

5. Medication

Prescriptions can have a negative effect on healing. For instance, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs often prescribed for arthritis and found over the counter as aspirin and ibuprofen, can interfere with the inflammation stage of the healing process, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Anticoagulants have the capacity to disrupt blood clotting, while immunosuppressants may weaken the immune system and enhance the risk of infection.

If you’ve experienced a wound and believe one or more of these factors may interfere with your healing wound, talk to your clinician to find ways to counter the negative effect. He or she may suggest changes in diet, nutritional supplementation and a regular exercise routine. Even small changes alterations to your medication regimen can make a huge difference as well.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.