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3 Age-Old Wound-Dressing Questions, Answered

How to dress a wound to better promote healing and prevent infection.

Part 2 in my modern wound care series. See part 1, on the latest advice for cleaning a wound, here.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

How many cuts and scrapes have you gotten in your life? Probably quite a few. Yet, to this day, do you know whether it’s better to keep a wound covered or let it air out?

Simple wound-care questions like that have left even doctors debating the answers. So earlier this year, an article in American Family Physician, the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, offered some answers. For the article, three researchers from Thomas Jefferson University looked at a number of studies on wound care and formulated guidelines based on the findings. Here are some highlights.

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The Latest on Advanced Wound Cleaning: Beyond the Paper Cut

The Latest on Advanced Wound Cleaning: Beyond the Paper Cut

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

If you want to expand your survival-medicine knowledge beyond first aid but don’t know where to start, wound treatment is a great choice. Whether it’s during a disaster or just in your everyday life, you’ll eventually face a wound of some sort.

You can learn a lot of advanced but easy-to-follow treatment details from my two affordable, interactive e-books, The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds and The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns. They cover gashes, bites, burns and more. I’ve also come across an excellent review regarding certain aspects of wound care: the Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines for Basic Wound Management in the Austere Environment, published last summer.

To create the recommendations in this report, researchers reviewed available studies for objective evidence of what works and what doesn’t. In this post I’ll go into some of their conclusions about cleaning a wound. Some of the findings may surprise you.

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The Survival Doctor’s Latest Tips on Tourniquets

This is the Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T, $28.99*). Note the stick you can use to wind the tourniquet tighter.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

A tourniquet seems so simple. At its most basic, it’s just a strip of strong material.

Its use seems simple too. You tighten it until the bleeding stops. Voilà. Life saved.

But thanks to studies conducted over the last several years, the guidelines on tourniquets have become more sophisticated, causing emergency professionals to change how they use these lifesaving devices.

Here’s the latest thinking, according to the research I’ve been reading. I’m eager to also hear from you if you’ve used a tourniquet in the field. What have you found works or doesn’t?

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How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

How to Set a Broken Bone or Treat a Dislocated Joint

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Broken bones and dislocated joints are pretty common injuries, and I have several posts on how to treat them in an emergency. But many people have asked specifically how to “set” a bone, meaning, I presume, how to straighten a broken arm, leg, finger, or toe if it is crooked.

The answer is most of the time, you should do nothing for a crooked bone or displaced joint other than splint it as-is until you can get to a doctor. Trying to move it around is likely to cause more damage.

But there are some injuries when, indeed, you may want to take that chance and try to set (straighten) the bone or put the joint back into place. And, of course, there’s always a chance you’re in a situation where expert help is many days away.

In those cases, the key to treatment is to apply traction—properly.

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Can Cayenne Pepper Really Stop a Heart Attack?

Can cayenne pepper really stop a heart attack? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about deciding what to do if you have chest pain far away from expert help. As usual my readers contributed some thought provoking comments. Two suggestions in particular inspired me to write additional posts. Last week I discussed so-called cough CPR. This week, it’s cayenne pepper.

The claim that cayenne pepper can stop a heart attack in its tracks is found far and wide on the Internet. So I decided to check out, as best I could, whether there’s any truth behind the headlines.

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Does Cough CPR Work?

Does Cough CPR Work? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Last week I wrote about deciding what to do if you have chest pain far away from expert help. Several comments on that post and on Facebook suggested vigorous and repetitive coughing could be tried. Since that suggestion is found far and wide on the Internet, I decided to check out, as best I could, whether there was any truth behind it.

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Wilderness Heart Attack: Should You Walk or Wait?

Wilderness Heart Attack: Should You Walk or Wait? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

If you have a heart attack in the wilderness, it’s judgment-call time. In my last post, I talked about the fact that you’ll have to weigh walking for help with waiting for help that you don’t even know is coming. Walking could damage your heart further. Waiting could postpone care too long.

In this post, we’ll go into the details of how I’d make the decision.

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Wilderness Heart Attacks: When There’s No Perfect Choice

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by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Many years ago, my wife and I were in Arizona to attend a conference. We had several hours to kill until the first meeting that night, so I decided we’d make a quick trip to the Grand Canyon. Then, I calculated we had three hours to kill before we had to leave and decided we should hike the trail down the Canyon, at least for a bit.

Well, I miscalculated the extra time and effort it would take to walk back up, so the hike became a speed walk. With about a mile to go, I heard my wife from behind me yell, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

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15 of the Worst Things to Do If You’re Stranded in the Cold

#3: Don’t rub your skin to warm up. It brings blood away from your core and to the surface. You feel warmer, but ...

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

In 2002, a couple of years after he won the Olympic gold medal in wrestling, Rulon Gardner went snowmobiling in Wyoming. “I told myself it would be a short trip,” he told the Associated Press. “We were going to go out about three hours and get home for dinner.”

But he got lost and ended up stranded for 17 hours. The temperature reached as low as 25 below zero, according to the AP.

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: The Sneaky Way It Kills

The sneaky way carbon monoxide poisoning kills. | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

A reader emailed to remind me there’s been a spate of carbon monoxide poisonings and several carbon monoxide deaths to go along with the cold weather in the Northeast United States. To me, that sort of news is always so troubling because even though carbon monoxide is a stealthy killer, the deaths are so preventable. All you need is a

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