Gangrene

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Gangrene

Circulation plays an essential role in supplying oxygen to various parts of the body through blood. This helps keep all our internal processes running efficiently and maintain our immunity and health. If circulation is impacted for any reason, we become susceptible to various diseases and illnesses like gangrene.

Gangrene is the death of body tissue that primarily affects the limbs including fingers and toes. In some cases, it can also affect the internal organs of the body. It is a serious medical condition.

If a particular part of our body stops receiving an adequate supply of blood, then the tissues start dying. This can eventually lead to the decay of the affected part which can spread to other parts of the body too. The death of the tissue can occur either due to the lack of blood flow to the affected part or a serious bacterial infection.

In India, the prevalence of gangrene is high in diabetics and people suffering from peripheral vascular disease. Also, individuals above the age of 50 are at a higher risk of developing gangrene.

Hence, it is important to identify, diagnose, and treat gangrene as soon as the symptoms set in. If detected in its early stages, gangrene can be treated effectively using surgery and other available therapies.

However, if left untreated, gangrene can develop life-threatening complications. As the severity of the symptoms increases, the patient has to be hospitalised and undergo surgery and other therapies. These treatments can cost a lot and without a health insurance plan, they can dent your finances.

Tata AIG offers comprehensive medical insurance to help you manage gangrene and other medical emergencies without having to worry about the costs of treatment or hospitalization. In this article, we will talk about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and importance of a health insurance plan for Gangrene.

Gangrene Meaning

A patient is diagnosed with gangrene when there is a death of tissue in a certain part of the body due to the lack of blood flowing to it. Every part of our body requires blood to remain healthy as it carries oxygen and other nutrients to it. If the blood supply reduces or stops completely, the affected part will start dying. This condition is called gangrene. It is a serious condition since the dying cells can release certain toxins which can spread throughout the body and cause sepsis and become life-threatening.

Types of Gangrene

Gangrene can be of the following types:

Dry Gangrene: This is more common among people with diabetes or any disease of the blood vessels. It develops slowly and the skin of the affected area becomes dry and shriveled which can look purplish-blue or black.

Wet Gangrene: This is typically caused due to a serious bacterial infection that causes the tissues to die quickly. The presence of bacteria usually results in a foul odor with a wet and swollen appearance.

Gas Gangrene: This affects deep muscle tissue. In its initial stages, the skin looks normal however, underneath the bacteria causing gas gangrene starts producing gas in the affected tissues. This leads to tissue death and can spread quickly to other parts.

Internal Gangrene: This gangrene affects the internal organs of the body. It happens when the blood supply to an internal organ is blocked due to any reason.

Fournier’s Gangrene: This affects the genital organs and usually affects men. While there are some cases of Fournier’s Gangrene in women too, men are more susceptible to this disease which is caused by a bacterial infection.

Wet Gangrene vs Dry Gangrene

Gangrene Symptoms

There are three stages of gangrene symptoms as described below:

1: Gangrene affects the skin

The symptoms can include:

  • Discoloration of the skin

  • Blisters

  • Swelling

  • Severe pain that comes suddenly followed by numbness in the affected area

  • Skin feels colder than the rest of the body to touch

  • Shiny skin or hairless skin

  • A sore that does not heal with a foul-smelling discharge

2: Gangrene affects the tissues beneath the skin

The symptoms can include a general feeling of being unwell or a low-grade fever. In such cases, the symptoms are not specific to gangrene. This is usually the case with gas gangrene or internal gangrene.

3: Septic shock when gangrene spread to the other parts of the body

The symptoms can include:

  • Fever

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Shortness of breath

  • Low blood pressure

  • Lightheadedness

  • Confusion

Gangrene Causes

There are three major causes of gangrene:

1.Lack of blood supply: Gangrene is caused due to the reduction or blockage of blood flow to a particular part of the body. Blood is important for every part of the body as it provides oxygen and other nutrients. Without an adequate supply of blood, the tissues in the affected part can start dying and result in gangrene. Blood supply can reduce due to a range of reasons like diabetes, a buildup of plaque in the arteries, peripheral artery disease, or Raynaud’s disease

2.Bacterial infection: if there is a bacterial infection in any part of the body and it is left untreated, then it can result in excessive fluid accumulation in the affected area and poor blood supply resulting in gangrene.

3.Traumatic injury: If a person has a crash injury, gunshot wound, or frostbite that is infected by bacteria and left untreated, then gangrene can occur. Open wounds are highly susceptible to such infections that can result in gangrene.

Diagnosis of Gangrene

A medical professional diagnoses gangrene through a series of tests as described below:

Manual examination of the affected part

In cases where gangrene has affected the skin, the medical professional will physically examine the part and check if the affected area has any sensation or discoloration of the skin. The patient will also be asked to share information about his/her medical history to understand if there are any underlying medical conditions that can result in a restricted flow of blood in the body.

Blood Tests

If the doctor suspects a bacterial infection, then a high count of white blood cells in a blood test can help determine the possibility of one. The doctor can also use the blood sample to run tests for specific bacteria or germs.

Tissue Culture Test

The doctor might take a sample of the tissue from the affected area or fluid from the blister in the area to look for signs of cell death and bacterial infection.

Imaging Tests

If the doctor suspects that gangrene has spread throughout the body, then he might recommend imaging tests like X-rays, CT Scans, or MRI Scans.

Gangrene Treatment

The doctor will determine the course of treatment based on the severity and extent of the spread of gangrene inside the patient’s body. The existing medical condition of the patient is also taken into consideration. Here are some treatment options for gangrene:

Medication

If gangrene is in its initial stages and caused by a bacterial infection, then the doctor might prescribe antibiotics to fight off the infection. Additionally, pain medications might be prescribed if the patient is experiencing excessive pain. Topical medicines might be applied to the wound that can help promote healing and fight off the infection.

Surgery

  • Depending on how severe the gangrene is and how much it has spread, the doctor might recommend one or more surgeries including:

  • Removing the infected tissue to stop the infection from spreading to the other parts of the body

  • Repairing any damaged or diseased blood vessel to improve blood circulation to the affected part

In severe cases, where removing the infected tissue might not help, the doctor might recommend amputating the infected part

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

In this therapy, your blood is enabled to carry more oxygen to the affected part. This can help slow the growth of bacteria and heal infected wounds quickly.

How to Prevent Gangrene?

Gangrene can be life-threatening if not detected early and treated in time. Here are some tips to help you prevent gangrene:

Take care of your feet: If you are suffering from diabetes or any other disease that can cause the blood vessels to narrow or thicken, then you need to take extra care of your feet. Go for regular foot checkups, wash them regularly with warm water, and wear well-fitting shoes.

Stop smoking: Smoking is known to be a major cause of blocked arteries that can result in a loss of blood supply to your hands and legs. If you have a history of smoking, then start considering giving it up.

Eat a healthy diet: Avoid fatty foods as they contain cholesterol and can increase the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Chart out a balanced diet and include healthy foods in all meals.

Exercise: Regular exercise can help keep your cholesterol levels within control and boost circulation. This can help prevent gangrene.

Reduce alcohol consumption: Alcohol is known to increase the cholesterol level in the body and increase blood pressure. This can result in plaque buildup in the arteries and poor circulation thereby increasing the risks of gangrene. Hence, reduce your alcohol consumption and talk to a doctor about the allowed limits.

Why Buy a Medical Insurance Plan?

On being diagnosed with gangrene, the doctor will put you on an immediate treatment plan to remove the infected tissue and fight off any bacterial infection before it spreads.

If the infection has already spread, then the doctor might recommend surgery and other treatments to avoid a septic shock. These treatments can be expensive and strain your finances.

When you opt for a medical insurance plan from Tata AIG, you get a range of benefits including:

Complete coverage: Tata AIG offers health insurance plans that provide coverage for pre-hospitalisation expenses like diagnostic tests, consultations, etc., hospitalisation costs, surgery costs, therapy costs, and post-hospitalisation costs too. Hence, you get complete financial protection to manage the costs associated with gangrene.

Cashless claim settlement: With Tata AIG, you can get treated for gangrene at any of our 7200+ network hospitals without paying a single rupee from your pocket. Once your cashless claim request is approved, we will pay the hospital directly up to the sum insured. Hence, you can focus on getting better and not the bills.

Affordable premium: Tata AIG policies are offered for highly competitive premium rates. We also ensure that we pack a range of features and benefits that make the payment of the premium worth every rupee. Further, we offer copayment and voluntary deductible options to help you reduce the premium without changing the coverage.

Quick settlement of claims: Tata AIG has a high claim settlement ratio (94.21% in FY 2020-21). This, coupled with a seamless online claim settlement process and a 24x7 support team, you can be assured of getting your claims settled in no time.

How to Buy Tata AIG’s Health Insurance?

Here is a quick look at the process to buy TATA AIG health insurance:

Online Process

  • Visit www.tataaig.com

  • Go to the Health Insurance Page

  • On this page, select the family members that will be included in the policy

  • Provide the date of birth of all covered family members and your contact details

  • Click on “See Plans”

  • Go through all the plans and select the one that is best suited to your needs

  • Opt for the right sum insured as it will impact the claim amount and the premium of the policy

  • Click on ‘Buy Now’

  • We will call you to complete the buying process

Offline purchase:

  • Visit the nearest Tata AIG office

  • Meet our insurance officer

  • Explain your requirements to help him offer the right plans

  • Choose the best plan after going through them in detail

  • Select the sum insured carefully

  • Fill out the required forms and attach the necessary documents

  • Pay the fees

Documents Needed to Buy Tata AIG’s Medical Insurance Plan

When you buy a health insurance policy, the insurer offers financial coverage for medical expenses under certain terms and conditions. To offer this coverage, you will be required to submit information about yourself and your medical history. You will also be required to submit documents to substantiate the information provided.

Here is a list of common documents that you need to buy a Tata AIG medical insurance plan:

Age Proof: Aadhar Card, passport, etc.

Address Proof: Utility bill, bank statement, etc.

Identity Proof: PAN Card, Aadhar Card, etc.

Medical History: Doctor’s reports and test results of any pre-existing disease

Other documents: IT returns, proof of income, etc.

What to Look for in a Health Insurance Plan?

If you are experiencing symptoms of gangrene, then it is important to seek a medical opinion immediately. If the infection has started spreading, then the doctor might recommend immediate hospitalisation and even surgery.

Without a comprehensive health insurance policy, you will have to manage all the costs which can dent your finances. Hence, before buying a policy, it is important to understand the coverage you are receiving along with the terms of the policy to get the best protection for your loved ones.

Here are some essential things to look for in a health insurance plan:

Adequate coverage amount

A health insurance policy does not offer unlimited coverage. The maximum coverage amount is limited to the sum insured by the policy. If your hospital bills go beyond this amount, then you are required to pay the remaining bill. Hence, it is important to buy a policy with a sum insured that can cover most medical emergencies. Assess the average cost of emergency medical care in your location and choose the sum insured accordingly.

Keep an eye on the premium

While you might want a high sum insured and a range of features in your policy, these aspects can increase the premium that you will be required to pay. Health insurance premiums need to be paid every year and if the amount is too high, then you might find it difficult to continue. Hence, look for options like copayment or voluntary deductible that allow you to reduce the premium amount without making any changes to the coverage.

Look at the list of network hospitals

Cashless claim settlement is a huge benefit in today’s times with increasing costs of medical care. If you opt for a reimbursement claim, then you are required to pay the bills first and claim after you are discharged. However, with cashless claim settlement, the insurer pays the hospital directly provided you get treated at a network hospital. Hence, it is important to look for an insurer with a network that includes hospitals close to your location.

Things to Remember when Filing a Claim for Gangrene

Apart from looking at the features and benefits of the health insurance policy, it is important to consider the claim settlement process before making the purchase. There are two types of claim settlements offered by insurance providers including cashless claim settlement and reimbursement claim settlement. Here are the details:

01: Cashless claim settlement

In cashless claim settlement, the insurance company pays the hospital bills directly. The policyholder is not required to make any payment and claim later. The bills are paid by the insurer without any financial strain on the policyholder.

However, to avail of this feature, you need to get treated at a network hospital and seek approval from the insurer for cashless settlement.

Keep these things in mind before applying for cashless claim settlement:

  • You are expected to inform Tata AIG about the treatment plan at least five days before starting the treatment. This is possible in cases where the treatment is pre-planned and the policyholder can inform us. After we receive the intimation, we will send an approval letter for cashless treatment at a network hospital.

  • If the policyholder gets admitted to a network hospital due to a medical emergency, then he/she can approach us within 24 hours of admission to apply for a cashless settlement.

02: Reimbursement claim settlement

Your insurer might not offer the cashless claim settlement feature. If you have bought a policy from us, you might decide to get treated at a hospital that does not feature in Tata AIG’s list of network hospitals of the insurer.

In such cases, you need to pay all the bills and charges and file a reimbursement claim as soon as you are discharged. Here are some things to remember for reimbursement claim settlement:

  • Talk to your insurance company to understand the reimbursement claim process and the documents needed for filing the claim

  • Follow the process diligently and submit the documents

  • File the claim as soon as you are discharged from the hospital

Here are some additional tips for gangrene claims:

  • Ensure that your policy is active before starting the treatment

  • Make sure that you are aware of the inclusions, exclusions, and terms of the policy to understand the nature and extent of coverage

  • Follow the claims process meticulously

Health Insurance Tax Benefits

Paying health insurance premiums can offer certain health insurance tax benefits under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The law allows policyholders to avail of tax deductions of the premium amount spent for a health insurance policy for themselves, their spouse, children, and parents.

Here are the details:

Policy for self (under 60 years) and/or family (spouse, children, parents) ₹25,000
Policy for self (over 60 years) and/or family (spouse, children, parents) ₹50,000
Policy for self (under 60 years) and/or spouse, children + Separate policy for dependent parents (under 60 years) ₹25,000 + ₹25,000 = ₹50,000
Policy for self (under 60 years) and/or spouse, children + Separate policy for dependent parents (under 60 years) ₹25,000 + ₹50,000 = ₹75,000
Policy for self (over 60 years) and/or spouse, children + Separate policy for dependent parents (over 60 years) 50,000 + ₹50,000 = ₹1,00,000
Policy for self (under 60 years) and/or spouse, children + Separate policy for dependent parents (under 60 years) ₹25,000 + ₹50,000 = ₹75,000
Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) ₹25,000 (under 60 years)
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) ₹25,000

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

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The standard waiting period for fungal infections is around 30 days. During this period, you cannot file a claim for fungal infection treatments. However, the period might vary based on the insurer and your medical history. Hence, make sure that you check with the provider.

Q1. Is Gangrene contagious?

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If gangrene has been caused by bacteria, then these bacteria can be transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person. Hence, if you are taking care of a gangrene patient, then make sure that you take adequate precautions to prevent getting infected.

Q2. Can gangrene recur?

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Yes, people with gangrene are usually at a higher risk of developing the infection again. Hence, it is important to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Q3. Is gangrene treatment covered by all health insurance policies?

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It is important to remember that gangrene is not covered by all health insurance policies. If it is caused by a pre-existing health condition, then certain policies might not cover it. Hence, it is important to go through the policy documents carefully before making the purchase.

Q4. Can I claim tax benefits for gangrene insurance premiums?

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Yes, health insurance policy premiums are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

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