Bleeding, or hemorrhage, is the name used to describe blood
loss. It can refer to blood loss inside the body, called internal bleeding. Or
it can refer to blood loss outside of the body, called external bleeding.
Blood loss can occur in almost any area of
the body. Internal bleeding occurs when blood leaks out through a damaged blood
vessel or organ. External bleeding happens when blood exits through a break in
the skin. Or it also happens when blood exits through a natural opening in the
body, such as the:
What are the common causes of bleeding?
Bleeding is a common symptom. A variety of
incidents or conditions can cause bleeding. Possible causes include:
An injury can cause traumatic bleeding. Common
types of traumatic injury include:
- abrasions or grazes that do not penetrate below the skin
- hematoma or bruises
- lacerations or incisions
- puncture wounds from items like needles or knives
- crushing injuries
- gunshot wounds
There are also some medical conditions that
can cause bleeding. Bleeding due to a medical condition is less common than
traumatic bleeding. Conditions that can cause bleeding include:
Some medicines can increase your chances of
bleeding, or even cause bleeding. Your doctor will warn you about this when
they first prescribe the medication. And they’ll tell you what to do if
Medications that may be responsible for
- blood-thinning medications
- antibiotics, when used on a long-term basis
- radiation therapy
If bleeding is severe, call an ambulance
immediately. You should seek emergency help if you suspect internal bleeding.
This can become life-threatening.
People who have bleeding disorders or take
blood thinners should also seek emergency help to stop bleeding.
Seek medical help if:
- the person has gone into shock or has a fever
- the bleeding cannot be controlled using pressure
- the wound requires a tourniquet
- the bleeding was caused by a serious injury
- the wound may need stitches to stop bleeding
- foreign objects are stuck inside the wound
- the wound appears to be becoming infected, such as swelling or
leaking a yellow or brown fluid, or has redness
- the injury occurred due to a bite from an animal or human
When you call for help, emergency services
will tell you what to do and when they’ll arrive. In most cases, emergency
services will tell you to continue to put pressure on the wound. And to keep
reassuring the patient. You may also be told to lay the person down to reduce
their risk of fainting.
How is bleeding treated?
A person can
bleed to death in five minutes. Bystanders
may be able to save a life before emergency personnel can arrive.
There is a national campaign called Stop the
Bleed to teach lay people how to stop bleeding. People in mass casualty events have
died from blood loss even when their wounds should not have been fatal.
First aid for traumatic bleeding
It is possible to treat external traumatic
bleeding. Seek emergency help if the patient is having any of the emergency
issues listed above. And also if you need help to stop the bleeding.
The person who is bleeding should try to
remain calm to keep their heart rate and blood pressure controlled. Either heart
rate or blood pressure being too high will increase the speed of bleeding.
Lay the person down as soon as possible to
reduce the risk of fainting. And try to elevate the area that is bleeding.
Remove loose debris and foreign particles
from the wound. Leave large items such as knives, arrows, or weapons where they
are. Removing these objects can cause further harm and will likely increase the
bleeding. In this case, use bandages and pads to keep the object in place and
absorb the bleeding.
Use the following to put pressure onto the
- clean cloth
- your hands
Maintain a medium pressure until the bleeding
has slowed and stops.
Do not remove the cloth when bleeding stops.
Use an adhesive tape or clothing to wrap around the dressing and hold it in
place. Then place a cold pack over the wound.
Do not look at the wound to see if bleeding
has stopped. This can disturb the wound and cause it to begin bleeding again.
Do not remove the cloth from the wound, even
if blood seeps through the material. Add more material on top, and continue the
Do not move anyone with an injury to the:
Do not apply pressure to an eye injury.
Use tourniquets only as a last resort. An experienced
person should apply the tourniquet. To apply a tourniquet, follow these steps:
- Identify where to place the tourniquet. Apply it to a limb between
the heart and the bleeding.
- Make the tourniquet using bandages, if possible. Wrap them around
the limb, and tie a half knot. Ensure there is enough room to tie another knot
with the loose ends.
- Place a stick or rod between the two knots.
- Twist the stick to tighten the bandage.
- Secure the tourniquet in place with tape or cloth.
the tourniquet every 10 minutes. If the bleeding slows enough to be controlled
with pressure, release the tourniquet and apply direct pressure instead.
You will need emergency medical care if:
- bleeding is caused by a serious
- bleeding cannot be controlled
- bleeding is internal
Paramedics will attempt to control the
bleeding before rushing you to the hospital. In some cases, care might be given
at home or by using a stretcher. The treatment required will depend on the
cause of the bleeding.
In rare cases, surgery may be required to
What are the consequences of untreated
A medical professional should see anyone who
experiences unexplained or uncontrolled bleeding.
If an injury or accident causes bleeding, it
may be stopped with first aid. The wound will then heal without further care.
If a medical condition causes bleeding, and
the condition is not identified or diagnosed, the bleeding is likely to recur.
Any bleeding that continues without medical
treatment could be fatal. If someone loses between one-third and one-half of
their total blood they could bleed to death. But bleeding to death is uncommon.
Exsanguination, or bleeding to death, can
occur without any external bleeding. Catastrophic internal hemorrhages can
cause a great deal of blood loss, as can aneurysms.