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March 24, 2010

Nutrition And Burns

One of the important components of burn care is nutritional support, nutrition is important for the recovery and healing process of a burned patient. After a burn injury and depending on the severity, the body reacts by increase production of certain hormones which will cause the body to need more nutrition accompanied sometimes with alteration in the carbohydrate, protein and fat breakdown.

There are many ways to assess the nutritional needs of the patient taking into consideration the age, body weight, the percentage of body surface burned, and other factors. The Curreri formula is used for adults and children, Harris-Benedict formula is used for adults and the Galvaston formula used for children. Dietitians and doctors will assess, monitor, and adjust nutrition frequently as patients condition improves or deteriorates.

There are different ways of delivering these nutrients to the patient, depending on the burn and the patient's condition. The patient may be fed by mouth, through the veins, the intestinal tract through a tube or a combination of more than one method.

Proteins:

Patients with burns need a lot of proteins during healing because of the loss of protein through the burn wound and the muscle breakdown trying to produce extra energy for the healing process.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates make up the bulk of the nutrition and provide the majority of calorie intake. These carbohydrates will be turned by the body into glucose that will be used by the burn wounds as a source of energy. In fact burn wounds can't use any other source. Carbohydrates will provide the energy for healing allowing protein eaten to be used to rebuilt muscles rather than being used as a source of fuel.

Fat:

Fat is also needed to provide essential amino acids (essential amino acids are amino acids that the body can't synthesize and has to be supplied) and extra calories, it is recommended that no more than 30% of calories come from fat; too much fat can weaken the immune system.


  • Additional vitamin and mineral supplements may be indicated; among these vitamins are vitamin C, D and E, minerals such as Selenium and Zinc may also be needed. These vitamins and minerals play a role in wound healing, immune response and preventing free radicals from causing damage to the tissues.

  • Burned infants and children represent more complex diet therapy challenges because in addition to the increased nutritional needs imposed by the burn, growth and developmental requirements must be considered. The patient will be assessed and nutritional needs will be calculated as soon as possible after hospital admission.

  • Parents have an important role in the healing process and in encouraging their child to eat, parents after consulting with child's physician and dietitian can bring the child's favorite food and have to praise the child even when small amount of food eaten.

  • It is important to follow the instructions given to you at the time of discharge as some patients may be discharged home with special instructions regarding nutritional requirements.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.