Liquid that your body fabricates upon a tissue injury is called drainage or exudate. This is a very normal reaction that should not provoke any panic. This protein rich fluid has varying functions such as maintaining the moisture of the injured area and ensuring that microphages find their way to the spot where they are required so the healing can go faster. It has been reported that not every person has the same content of exudate. Every type of drainage has different ingredients which is very important to determine in order to learn about what is taking place in the wound.
This is a pale yellow or transparent fluid found most frequently inside body’s cavities. It originates from serous glands such as the salivary glands. Smaller amounts of serous drainage are typical for inflammatory processes. However, when there is an excess amount of serous exudate then there probably is an increased amount of the unsterilized bacteria in the injury, a.k.a. a higher level of bioburden. The further the wound progresses with curing the less of the fluid you should see. It could be very problematic if you see the serous drainage even long time after the injury has been taken care of because it can indicate the presence of some infection.
Examples of inflammations causing serous drainage
These are usually found on hands and feet because they are exposed to mini traumas and friction on everyday basis. They look like parts of skin that are slightly raised and filled with serum which is secreted by tissues and vessels that are injured. Then the fluid is reabsorbed by the body, the crust forms over it and stays at the spot for a few days until it falls off with adequate treatment. Blisters usually cause a lot of pain and discomfort to people and you can get them from burns, rashes, chickenpox, diabetes, gangrene, viral infections and pressure ulcers.
This type of inflammation will probably give you mucous that will be a combination of both serum and mucous. It originates from your respiratory tract that was attacked by some kind of a virus or bacteria and uses exudate as a purification system. The types of seromucous inflammation include common cold, bronchitis and enteritis.
Serous pulmonary alveolitis
When tiny air sacks in your lungs, i.e. alveoli get inflamed, it causes production of toxic exudate in your lungs. What actually happens is that watery fluid (also known as edema) gets oozed into the alveoli through their walls and inhibits the transfer of oxygen to the blood. The causes for the disease could be the inhalation of toxic laden particles or fungal/bacterial spores.
As the name itself may already indicate to many of you what this is, sanguineous drainage involves solely blood that comes from a fresh wound. It usually is of a bright red color seen in partial -thickness ( loss of dermis presenting as shallow open ulcer with a red-pink wound bed without slough) and full-thickness wounds ( characterized by skin loss and possibly visible subcutaneous fat). It should last no more than a few hours.
What is it ?
When you see some pink exudate coming from the wound you are having serosanguineous drainage. This is pretty common in the beginning phases of wound healing. You shouldn’t be too upset when you see it because it is pretty regular and really minimal amounts of bloodcells in serum are enough to make it pink.
When else can it appear?
When the wound is fresh you are to expect sanguineous exudate, a.k.a active bleeding. This is an ordinary occasion of course and is tended to by methods such as applying pressure to the spot or stitching in serious cases. Serosanguineous drainage may proceed after this as a first phase of the healing process. However, the discussed drainage may also occur if the surgery incision wasn’t done with enough gentleness or the patient has jumped into some arduous physical activities soon after the incision was done.
When should we worry?
If your nurse or you notice that the serosanguineous exudate turns into pure sanguineous drainage, you need immediate help because you might be experiencing some internal bleeding.
This type of drainage usually indicates that there is an infection in the wound that needs attention. The exudate contains both purulent drainage (or simply pus) and the serum. It is also commonly named ‘’seropus’’ that is similar to serum when it comes to consistency but a bit more cloudier, yellowish in color.
Like we mentioned in the previous paragraph this is popular as ‘’pus’’ among people who are not familiar with medicinal terms. It is often yellow, green or even brown in color, has unpleasing smell and is a sure sign that there is an infection. Pimples and abscess are some of the pus forms. The former represents a build-up near the skin surface while the other is located in an enclosed tissue space.
What does the pus contain?
The bacteria in your organism are recognized by your body as a foreign matter. This is the point where microphages (a type of white blood cells) call forth the cytokines that trigger the neutrophils (another kind of leukocytes) to the affected area. All of these immune system defenders are born in the bone marrow and the pus mainly consists of them as well as some dead bacteria. When these accumulate at a higher rate than it is sustainable for the body, pus will appear.
What is the cause of the color and smell?
The color of the pus might range from yellow, to green and even brown and this is usually due to the big amount of dead neutrophils. What could also contribute to the coloring is myeloperioxidase- an antibacterial protein produced by the white blood cells. This protein gives pus the green color as well as pseudomonas aeruginosa that releases pyocianin. The lastly mentioned bacteria is also to be blamed for the foul smell.
Who can get purulent drainage
Seeing purulent exudate is no good news because it screams ‘’infection’’ in all of its instances. It unmistakably shows that something is going on with the immune system. For example, you can see it if you suffer from HIV or are taking immune system suppressants after an organ transplant. Diabetes is also one of the causes.