Being bedridden is a form of immobility that can present as the inability to move or even sit upright.[1] It differs from bed-rest, a form of non-invasive treatment that is usually part of recovery or the limitation of activities. Some of the more serious consequences of being bedridden is the high risk of developing thrombosis and muscle wasting (atrophy).


The word "bedridden" is derived from the Middle English term bedrid, the past tense form of riding a bed, which dates back to the 14th century.[2]

Bed restEdit

This is a voluntary medical treatment still used today to help cure illness.[3] Current views regarding this treatment are that there are no benefits for most conditions studied.[4] Though bedrest may still be prescribed for pregnant women, it is now considered dangerous.[4][5][6][7] Those who are bedridden can develop complications related to feeding.


Being bedridden leads to many complications such as loss of muscle strength and endurance. Contractures, osteoporosis from disuse and the degeneration of joints can occur. Being confined to bed can add to the likelihood of developing an increased heart rate, decreased cardiac output, hypotension, and thromboembolism.[8] People with disabilities who are bedridden are at risk for developing pressure sores.[9][10] Those who are bedridden are at risk in a house fire due to their lack of mobility.[11] Showering can become impossible.[12] Bedsores develop if a person spends most or all of the day in bed without changing position[13] Being confined to bed may result in a person remaining passive and withdrawn. The ability to transfer to a chair and the negative attitudes of caregivers is associated with continued confinement to bed and reduction of such requests.[14] Those who are confined to bed have risks related to falls. Falling from a bed can result in injury.


One recommendation for preventing the complications of being bedridden is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains enough calories and protein needed for optimum health. If someone is confined to a bed, changing position at least every two hours can help prevent complications in addition to changing sheeting and bedclothes immediately if they are soiled, and using items that can help reduce pressure, such as pillows or foam padding.[13]


One Indian study of care given to bedridden individuals at home found that family members made up 82% of caregivers. A high rate of medical complications was reported, including pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections.[15]

Examples in popular cultureEdit

In Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket's four grandparents, including Grandpa Joe, were always bedridden. In the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, they had been in bed for over 20 years. Joe is the only one who got out of bed. In the 1971 film, Charlie helps him get out of bed (after Joe reads Charlie's golden ticket and was very proud of him for actually finding one) and keeps falling down 3 times in a row and fainted the first time, but in the 2005 remake by Tim Burton, Joe gets out of bed all by himself and tap-dances after seeing Charlie's golden ticket.


  1. ^ "Definition of BEDRIDDEN". Retrieved 2018-02-14.
  2. ^ "The definition of bedridden". Retrieved 2018-02-14.
  3. ^ Collin (2008). Dictionary of Medical Terms. A&C Black – via Credo Reference.
  4. ^ a b Allen, C; Glasziou, P; Del Mar, C (9 October 1999). "Bed rest: a potentially harmful treatment needing more careful evaluation". Lancet. 354 (9186): 1229–33. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(98)10063-6. PMID 10520630. S2CID 12196831.
  5. ^ Bed Rest During Pregnancy
  6. ^ Is It 'Unethical' To Prescribe Bed Rest For Pregnant Women? | CommonHealth
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2018-02-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Maclin, V. M.; Radwanska, E.; Binor, Z.; Dmowski, W. P. (August 1990). "Progesterone:estradiol ratios at implantation in ongoing pregnancies, abortions, and nonconception cycles resulting from ovulation induction". Fertility and Sterility. 54 (2): 238–244. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(16)53696-6. ISSN 0015-0282. PMID 2379624.
  9. ^ "Related Conditions | Disability and Health | NCBDDD | CDC". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2018-03-12.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "Bedsores (pressure ulcers) - Symptoms and causes". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  11. ^ Kawano, Lynn. "Police: Woman who recruited exchange students to Hawaii raped one while he was bedridden". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  12. ^ "Mexican man, once the world's fattest, dreams of walking again". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  13. ^ a b "Skin care and incontinence: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2018-03-12.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ Forbes, Dorothy A. (2009-04-01). "Being bedridden was a slow process influenced by interactions with the environment, nurses, and social tiesCommentary". Evidence-Based Nursing. 12 (2): 64. doi:10.1136/ebn.12.2.64. ISSN 1367-6539. PMID 19321841. S2CID 35150903.
  15. ^ Puneet Bains; Amarjeet Singh Minhas (22 August 2011). "Profile of home-based caregivers of bedridden patients in North India". Indian Journal of Community Medicine. 36 (2): 114–119. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.84129. PMC 3180935. PMID 21976795.