Bleeding is the loss of blood. Bleeding may be:
Bleeding may occur:
Get emergency medical help for severe bleeding. This is very important if you think there is internal bleeding. Internal bleeding can very quickly become life threatening. Immediate medical care is needed.
Serious injuries don't cause heavy bleeding. Sometimes, relatively minor injuries can bleed a lot. An example is a scalp wound.
The most important step for external bleeding is to apply direct pressure. This will stop most external bleeding.
Always wash your hands before (if possible) and after giving first aid to someone who is bleeding. This helps prevent infection.
Try to use latex gloves when treating someone who is bleeding. Latex gloves should be in every first aid kit. People allergic to latex can use a nonlatex glove. You can catch viral hepatitis if you touch infected blood. HIV can be spread if infected blood gets into an open wound, even a small one.
Although puncture wounds usually don't bleed very much, they carry a high risk of infection. Seek medical care to prevent tetanus or other infection.
Abdominal and chest wounds can be very serious because of the possibility of severe internal bleeding. They may not look very serious, but can result in shock.
Blood loss can cause blood to collect under the skin, turning it black and blue (bruised). Apply a cool compress to the area as soon as possible to reduce swelling. Wrap the ice in a towel and place the towel over the injury. Do not place ice directly on the skin.
Bleeding can be caused by injuries or may be spontaneous. Spontaneous bleeding is most commonly caused by problems with the joints, or gastrointestinal or urogenital tracts.
Symptoms of internal bleeding may also include:
First aid is appropriate for external bleeding. If bleeding is severe, or if you think there is internal bleeding or the person is in shock, get emergency help.
Seek medical help if:
Use good judgment and keep knives and sharp objects away from small children.
Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, especially the tetanus immunization.
Blood loss; Open injury bleeding
Cornwell EE. Initial approach to trauma. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004: chap 251.
Lammers, RL. Principles of Wound Management. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR eds. Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed.Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier; 2009: chap 39.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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