Burn patients should talk about their burn injury and nutrition with their doctor. When people sustain serious burn injuries, they often lose a dangerous amount of body weight because their metabolism increases substantially after the injury, which means they require a lot more calories to maintain their body weight.
Not only do burn patients require more food, they may also have a hard time getting the nutrition they need because of lack of appetite. However, if burn victims do not get the nutrition support they need, healing may be slower.
Why is nutrition so important for burn patients?
Burn injury patients may need 1.4 times the regular daily amount of calories and up to four times the daily amount of protein, according to Dr. Larry Jones of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and writing for Live Science.
However, Dr. Jeffrey R. Saffle notes in Total Burn Care that merely overfeeding burn patients would be ineffective and lead to other complications such as hyperglycemia. The goal of burn injury nutrition is to give burn patients the vitamins their bodies so desperately need. Keep in mind that the nutritional and caloric needs of each patient will differ greatly; patients should work with their doctor and nutritionist to create the best plan for their recovery.
Thus, attentive nutrition therapy is essential for burn patients. People with severe burn injuries can lose as much as 20 percent of their pre-injury body weight within a few weeks if they do not have nutrition support, according to Total Burn Care.
When burn injury patients get adequate nutrition therapy, it can enhance tissue regeneration and improve their general feeling of well-being and may help manage pain. In other words, when the body receives the fuel it needs, it will be able to heal better and faster.
Unfortunately, issues with eating often arise after a burn injury for several reasons. Pain can cause nausea and reduce appetite, as can some of the medications burn patients take. Sedation can obviously cause an issue with eating, too. Some severe burn victims may require a feeding tube to ensure proper nutrition during the acute phase of their injury, and doctors may have to administer medication to help patients tolerate the feedings.
What are the recommended approaches to nutrition for burn patients?
In a 2013 issue of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at a Belgium burn center detailed the key aspects of effective burn injury nutrition therapy, which are widely used in burn care around the world. Below are some of the most important aspects of post-burn injury nutrition:
- Early initiation: Nutrition therapy should begin within 12 hours of the injury.
- Assessment: Determine the energy requirements for each patient. (It can vary widely.)
- Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks for tissue regeneration, so burn victims’ diet will focus heavily on proteins.
- Carbohydrates: Doctors should limit carbohydrates to less than 60 percent of the diet.
- Fat: Doctors should moderate fat intake. It should not exceed 35 percent of total daily intake.
- Micronutrients: Patients also need extra vitamins and other micronutrients in their diet, including substitution of zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin B1, C, D and E.
In addition, while medical research on the ability of certain foods to actually reduce pain is relatively sparse, Dr. Mark Borigini noted in Psychology Today that some patients have reported reduced pain levels when they consume certain foods.
Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like fish and walnuts may help reduce general pain; cherries, oranges, peaches, asparagus, cranberries, cauliflower, and kiwi seem to help with chronic pain; and some patients report that eating soy helps reduce neuropathic pain.
How do I know if my nutrition plan is optimal?
Nutrition therapy is vitally important for burn patients. As stated above, burn victims should work with a dietician or a burn injury dietary support team for help establishing a nutritional plan tailored to their unique needs.
And remember that nutritional therapy and other therapies following a burn injury will contribute to the financial burden that patients experience. This is not to say that patients should skip nutrition or other therapies, but they should be aware of their legal options to recover compensation for the damages they sustained if another party caused their burn injuries.
Call us to speak with one of our lawyer referral specialists who can connect you with a lawyer to help with your case. Call 844-549-8774.