What Happens to Your Body After a Long Hospital Stay

The Phys­i­cal Side Effects of Being Bedridden

While pro­longed hos­pi­tal stays are intend­ed to restore your body, long peri­ods of bedrest may result in var­i­ous phys­i­cal side effects. Break­Through Care Cen­ter physi­cian, Dr. Karl Szafran­s­ki, shares insights to help pre­pare you for phys­i­cal changes that you may expe­ri­ence with a long hos­pi­tal stay.

Pres­sure Sores
It is dif­fi­cult to change posi­tions and move your body to keep blood flow­ing when con­fined to a hos­pi­tal bed. Peri­ods of bedrest puts pres­sure on your body, dimin­ish­ing blood sup­ply, which can result in pres­sure sores com­mon­ly referred to as bed sores. Pres­sure sores can arise as ear­ly as two hours into a hos­pi­tal stay and are often found on the low­er back, tail­bone, heels, elbows and hips. To help pre­vent the onset, your nurse will help you to peri­od­i­cal­ly shift positions.

Weak Bones and Mus­cles
Long hos­pi­tal stays may affect your bones and mus­cles, as you are unable to stretch and move around as nor­mal. Your bones bear your weight as you stand and walk, while your mus­cles work to get you where you need to go. Due to the inac­tiv­i­ty you expe­ri­ence when your body is in recov­ery mode, your bones and mus­cles weak­en, which makes your body more prone to frac­tures and stiff joints.

If pos­si­ble, try to take short walks through the hos­pi­tal with a nurse or fam­i­ly mem­ber to exer­cise mus­cles, loosen joints and main­tain the strength of your bones. If you are unable to get out of bed, try to sit up and do small exer­cis­es, such as flex­ing and relax­ing your mus­cles and mov­ing your limbs.

Con­sti­pa­tion and Diges­tive Issues
In addi­tion to main­tain­ing the strength of your mus­cles and bones, move­ment helps reg­u­late your diges­tive sys­tem. While part of your heal­ing process, bedrest can con­tribute to con­sti­pa­tion or gut issues for sev­er­al rea­sons, including:

  • Immo­bil­i­ty: A lack of move­ment lessens the wave-like con­trac­tions of the colon, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to emp­ty your bowels.
  • Diet: Bedrid­den patients tend to eat less than when they are up and mov­ing. This can lead to longer stool tran­sit times and cause constipation.
  • Med­ica­tion: If your recov­ery process requires a long hos­pi­tal stay, it is like­ly that you are tak­ing med­ica­tion. Cer­tain med­ica­tions, such as blood pres­sure med­ica­tions and anti­de­pres­sants, can impact reg­u­lar bow­el move­ments and may lead to constipation.

    Eat­ing a diet high in fiber, drink­ing plen­ty of flu­ids and engag­ing in exer­cise when pos­si­ble can help alle­vi­ate con­sti­pa­tion. If this does not improve con­sti­pa­tion, talk to your physi­cian about oth­er meth­ods that may be help­ful for you.

    Blood Clots
    Often times, injury and surgery require hos­pi­tal stays for prop­er recov­ery. How­ev­er, when cer­tain parts of your body are not being used, the blood from your veins will trav­el more slow­ly to your heart. Slow-mov­ing blood is at a high­er risk of clot­ting and is espe­cial­ly promi­nent in those recov­er­ing from leg surgery or injury.

    To help pre­vent blood clots, pneu­mat­ic com­pres­sion wear, pow­ered by an elec­tric pump, can be worn to squeeze your appendages and move blood through your veins. If you are at a high­er risk for blood clots, you may be giv­en an anti­co­ag­u­lant by your physician.

    Phys­i­cal decline after a long hos­pi­tal stay can hap­pen to any­one, and active­ly work­ing to main­tain your phys­i­cal strength will go a long way when tran­si­tion­ing back to every­day life. To help keep your body on the road to recov­ery, try a few small steps each day to help main­tain your strength and sta­mi­na. To learn more tips for recov­ery, or to sched­ule an appoint­ment with one of our physi­cians, please vis­it DuPageMed​ical​Group​.com.

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