First Aid for Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding refers to bleeding which takes place inside the body. Occasionally, the blood may ooze out from the natural openings of your body, but blood is not lost in many cases of internal bleeding. Internal bleeding causes severe trauma and shock regardless of the fact that you cannot see any blood being lost from the body.

Internal bleeding often occurs from obvious injuries, therefore, the condition is to be promptly treated before it gets worse. Bleeding is sometimes delayed for many hours or even days. Internal bleeding injuries that are minor, often heal on their own however, if internal bleeding is persistent, surgery may be required to fix the problem.

Causes

Internal bleeding is often caused by two major types of trauma:

  • Blunt trauma: This refers to any part of the body being slammed onto an object at high speed. The force of the impact causes the blood vessels in the body to be either crushed due to the collision with the object or torn due to the increased force of the collision. This is often caused by car accidents, sports injuries, assaults and falls.
  • Penetrating trauma: This happens when an object pierces through the body, rupturing blood vessels. This often happens when a person is stabbed, shot with a gun or when he falls on a sharp object.

Trauma can damage any part of your body or organ to cause internal bleeding. The most severe examples of internal bleeding are:

  • Hemothorax or bleeding around the lungs
  • Hemopericardium and cardiac tamponade caused due to bleeding around the heart
  • Intracranial hemorrhage caused by a blow on the head
  • Large blood vessels in the central region of the body such as the aorta, the vena cavae etc., being torn due to trauma

Symptoms

  • If it’s a head trauma, blood or any clear fluid may drain out from the mouth, nose or ear
  • Headaches in case of a head trauma or after severe bleeding
  • Blood in the feces
  • Blood in the urine
  • Tight and swollen abdomen
  • Breathlessness
  • Bright red blood in the vomit (it may be like coffee grains too)
  • Blood comes from the vagina (during pregnancy especially)
  • Bruising in the chest or abdominal area
  • Severe pain in the vital organs
  • A fractured femur

Treatment

In case of an internal bleeding emergency, prompt medical treatment is essential. Follow these steps until help arrives:

  1. Safety first! Check if there is any danger around the person before approaching him. Ensure road safety if it is an injury due to a car accident.
  2. Check the ABCs: Awake? Breathing? Continuous Care.
  3. Allow the person to feel comfortable and let him lie down. Reassure him that help is on its way.
  4. If possible, try to keep him warm by covering his body with a blanket.
  5. Raise the legs above heart level, if possible.
  6. Do NOT give him anything to drink or eat.
  7. Administer first aid for bruises and cuts. Firmly press the wounds with a sterile piece of cloth to stop bleeding.
  8. In case the person is unconscious, let him rest on his side and look for signs of circulation such as breathing, movement or coughing. Begin CPR if the person is not breathing till help arrives.

Learn more with workplace approved Training

To learn to recognize, manage and help victims of internal bleeding take a workplace approved training course with Winnipeg First Aid. Certification courses that include wound care such as internal bleeding include standard, emergency and childcare first aid. For more information or registration click here.

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