What Is Internal Bleeding?Medically termed “haemorrhaging,” internal bleeding involves the internal loss of blood, contrasting with the more readily observed external bleeding from a wound. Typically arising from physical trauma inflicted upon a specific area of the body, it involves the impairment of blood vessels and the consequential disruption of the body’s natural circulatory processes. The repercussions of internal bleeding can be profound, marked by a substantial loss of blood that might even culminate in anaemia.
Is It Serious?Blood loss and not having enough blood circulation in the body is a medical emergency. When blood vessels are damaged or ruptured, the body’s ability to control clotting is compromised, leading to uncontrolled bleeding within the body. In individuals with normal blood clotting mechanisms, the body can usually form clots to stop bleeding and repair the damaged vessels. However, for those with bleeding disorders or taking blood thinners, the risk of excessive bleeding and inadequate clotting increases significantly. Conditions like haemophilia, characterised by a deficiency in clotting factors, can exacerbate internal bleeding and pose life-threatening risks. Additionally, platelet deficiencies can impair clot formation and exacerbate the severity of internal bleeding. In severe internal bleeding and significant blood loss, blood transfusions may be necessary to restore adequate blood volume and maintain proper oxygen delivery to vital organs.
Different TypesCommon causes of internal bleeding mainly result from an injury which could either be blunt trauma or piercing trauma.
Blunt InjuryBlunt injuries or trauma take place when a part of the body smashes into something else with great force. The force then ruptures, tears, or crushes the blood vessels within the body part. Examples of this include falling from height, car accidents, and possibly a very strong punch in the stomach.
Penetrating InjuryPenetrating injuries or piercing trauma happen when an object pierces straight through the body. This type of injury creates a direct hold on the many vessels it hits. Examples of this type of injury include being shot by a gun or stabbed by a knife.
Vulnerable OrgansInternal bleeding can occur if there is an underlying vulnerability in the abdominal organs. Some individuals may have preexisting conditions that make them more susceptible to injury, such as
- peptic ulcers
- weakened blood vessels
LiverThe liver is a particularly dangerous organ to injure because it contains many large blood vessels. This causes a significant amount of blood to gush out internally. This will result in a number of symptoms, with a swollen abdomen area being one of them. The liver is important to people as one of its vital functions helps break down and balance proteins and nutrients. It is not possible for people to live without a liver.
SpleenDamage to the spleen is more commonly referred to as a ruptured spleen. This organ helps people’s bodies stave off infections. It also helps to take out and filter any red blood cells that are old or damaged.
PancreasThe pancreas plays a vital role in digestion and blood sugar regulation, often associated with diabetes.
Can a Stomach Punch Cause Internal Bleeding?When it comes to physical blows to the abdomen, many people wonder about the potential for causing internal bleeding. The human body is a complex system with various organs, including the stomach, intestines, esophagus, and more. While a punch to the stomach is unlikely to directly cause internal bleeding in healthy individuals, there are certain circumstances where it can become a concern.
The Resilient Abdominal WallThe abdominal cavity is lined with a robust structure of muscles and tissues that provide significant protection to the internal organs. In most cases, a typical punch to the stomach is absorbed by this protective layer without causing serious harm. However, excessive force or repeated trauma to the abdomen can lead to injury or complications. The stomach itself contains many blood vessels, and trauma to this area can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
Symptoms When Bleeding InternallyIt is not easy to identify whether a person has internal haemorrhaging. However, there are several possible signs and symptoms to look out for. There are many possible signs of internal bleeding. These include:
- Loss of consciousness or passing out
- Feeling weak
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Hypotension or low blood pressure
- Tachycardia or increased heart rate
- Vomiting blood or material that resembles coffee grounds (often described as “tarry”)
- Passing bloody stools
Aneurysms and Blood VesselsThe presence of an aneurysm, a weakened and bulging blood vessel, is another factor to consider for internal bleeding. While rare, an abdominal aneurysm can be susceptible to rupture from physical trauma. In such cases, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention as this can be life-threatening.
Risk Factors of Internal BleedingInternal bleeding can occur due to various factors and conditions, making it essential to understand the risk factors. While internal bleeding can result from traumatic events like broken bones or organ damage, there are also underlying medical conditions and situations that increase the risk of experiencing internal bleeding.
Trauma and InjuryAccidents and physical trauma, such as car crashes, falls, or sports injuries, are common causes of internal bleeding. Broken bones, for example, can puncture nearby blood vessels, causing significant bleeding.
Medical ConditionsCertain medical conditions can make individuals more susceptible to internal bleeding. These include:
Aortic Aneurysms: Aneurysms in the aorta, the body’s largest blood vessel, can weaken over time and rupture, resulting in extensive internal bleeding.
Ectopic Pregnancy: When a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, such as in a fallopian tube, it can lead to an ectopic pregnancy. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to rupture.
Organ Failure: Individuals with organ failure, particularly liver or kidney failure, may experience problems with blood clotting.
MedicationsSome medications, such as anticoagulants (blood thinners) or antiplatelet drugs, can interfere with the body’s ability to form blood clots. While these medications are often prescribed to prevent conditions like strokes or heart attacks, they can increase the risk of bleeding.
Age and GenderAge can be a factor in the risk of internal bleeding. Older adults may have weakened blood vessels, making them more susceptible to rupture. Additionally, gender can play a role, as conditions like ectopic pregnancy primarily affect individuals assigned females at birth.
Underlying Health ConditionsIndividuals with preexisting medical conditions, such as clotting disorders or gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease, may be at higher risk for internal bleeding. These conditions can affect the integrity of blood vessels or the gastrointestinal tract, increasing the likelihood of bleeding.
Identifying and Treating Internal BleedingWhether it’s a result of trauma, an underlying medical condition, or other factors, identifying the signs and proper responses can make a significant difference in addressing this potentially life-threatening situation effectively.
Diagnostic TestsPhysical examination and different tests can be used to diagnose internal bleeding and assess its severity. Some of the common tests include:
CT Scan (Computed Tomography): A CT scan uses X-rays and computer technology to create detailed cross-sectional images of the body. It is an effective method for detecting internal bleeding in various areas, such as the brain, abdomen, or chest.
Imaging Tests: Besides CT scans, other imaging tests like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or ultrasound may be employed to visualise the affected areas and identify signs of internal bleeding.
X-ray: While X-rays are not as sensitive as CT scans or MRIs in detecting internal bleeding, they can still be useful, especially in cases of bone fractures that may accompany internal bleeding.
Angiography: Angiography involves injecting a contrast dye into blood vessels and taking X-rays to visualise blood flow and identify areas of abnormal bleeding. It is commonly used to detect internal bleeding in blood vessels or organs like the gastrointestinal tract. For treatment, when the bleeding is not that serious, it will eventually go away on its own and the person will heal right up. In this case, the best thing to do is rest and control the symptoms as much as possible. If symptoms do not go away, or if they worsen, it may be time to head to the doctor. Treatment will usually include surgery.
First Aid for Internal BleedingInternal bleeding is a serious medical condition, and providing first aid is beyond the scope of laypersons. Instead, follow these general first aid steps:
- Call for Emergency Medical Help: Contact the nearest emergency room or triple zero (000 in Australia).
- Stay with the Person: If it is safe to do so, stay with the affected person and keep them calm and reassured while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.
- Do Not Give Anything to Drink: Avoid giving the person anything to eat or drink, as they might require surgery or other medical procedures that could be complicated by a full stomach.
- Keep the Person Still: Encourage the person to lie down and avoid unnecessary movement to prevent further complications.
- Control External Bleeding: If there is external bleeding from wounds, apply direct pressure to the bleeding site with a clean cloth or sterile dressing. Do not attempt to control internal bleeding directly.
- Do Not Provide Medications: Refrain from giving the person any medications, including pain relievers, as they might interfere with medical treatments.
- Prevent Hypothermia: Keep the person warm with blankets or clothing to prevent hypothermia, but do not apply direct heat to the injured area.
See the UnseenTreating a bleeding wound demands careful attention, but internal bleeding within our bodies requires even greater concern and immediate action. It is essential to spot signs and symptoms of internal bleeding because it is hidden. Catching it early potentially saves lives. With how dangerous it is, we hope that this will allow you to make an informed decision about punching or getting punched in the stomach. With how serious this type of bleeding is, it is also important to know the first aid practices for it. These include laying a person down and raising their legs over their heart. Learn more about what to do in this and many more situations through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.
The severity of bleeding beneath the skin can vary. Generally, minor bruising is not a major concern, but if you experience unexplained or extensive bruising, especially in conjunction with other unusual symptoms, it’s wise to consult a healthcare professional for a proper assessment.
A patient’s chance of survival depends on various factors, including the cause, location, and promptness of medical intervention. Timely medical attention is crucial, as some cases of internal bleeding can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Organs with extensive blood supplies, such as the liver, spleen, or major blood vessels, can potentially lead to more severe internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if there’s any suspicion of internal bleeding to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
An abdominal hematoma can indeed be fatal, particularly if it leads to severe internal bleeding or affects vital organs. Quick medical attention is vital to evaluate and manage the condition, as it may require surgical intervention to prevent life-threatening complications.
Yes, it is possible to have a brain bleed and not be aware of it initially. Some brain bleeds from a head injury or intracranial hemorrhage may not cause noticeable symptoms immediately, but they can become serious over time, especially in cases of an aneurysm, which is a weakened blood vessel that can rupture and lead to a brain bleed.