Burns can cause unexpected health complications

Almost everyone suffers a burn at one time or another, and while painful, the injury is usually not severe. However, according to the National Institute of Health, burns are most common in young children and the elderly, and the statistics show that more than two million people require treatment each year. The effects of severe burns range from infection to joint problems, and some of these devastating medical issues can be traced back to negligence.

Common causes

Burns can be caused by many things, including electrical currents, hot liquid or steam, hot metal or glass, ultraviolet light from a tanning bed or sun lamp, x-ray radiation, chemicals, and, of course, fire. Acids are often the cause of chemical burns because they can be found in materials people handle on a daily basis: car battery acid, ammonia, bleach, teeth whitening products, even denture cleaners. The people most at risk are infants, seniors and the disabled. Common symptoms of chemical burns include numbness or pain in the affected area, irritation or redness and, in the more severe cases, blackened skin.

Electrical burns may require emergency care

An electrical burn may seem minor, but this kind of burn should be treated by a physician. Causes include contact with household current, stun guns, lightning and faulty overhead lines. Anyone who sustains an electrical burn should not be touched if he or she is still in contact with the source. If that source is either lightning or high-voltage wires, call for emergency assistance at once.

Complications from burn injuries

Depending on how many layers of skin and tissue are involved, burns are categorized as first-, second-, third- or fourth-degree. They can leave the skin open to bacterial infection, including sepsis, a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout the bloodstream. Blood vessels can be damaged as well, which can lead to fluid loss. Should this occur, the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body. Burns can also cause loss of body heat and the risk of hypothermia. Fourth-degree burns can affect ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, nerves and even bones. With the forming of scar tissue, there will be tightening of the skin, muscles and tendons, and movement may become limited since joints may be pulled out of position permanently.

A lawsuit may be in order

Accidents cause burns, but so does negligence, which may be behind a scalding injury to a child, a gas explosion that scars an employee or a hotel fire that injures a guest. Whether the circumstances stem from a defective product or disastrous chemical exposure, a law suit may be the next step, and the victim of a burn injury should seek the help of a personal injury attorney.