|Severe internal bleeding is a potentially life-threatening condition. While the blood may not be obvious, it is still lost from the circulatory system and the victim is therefore very likely to go into shock. Internal bleeding may also cause a build-up pressure that, in areas such as the skull or around the heart, can cause serious problems, loss of consciousness and, if untreated, lead to death.
SITES OF BLEEDING
Internal bleeding can be very difficult to identify. It is not unusual for internal bleeding to happen slowly, with sign and symptoms showing up days after an accident. It can happen to any part of the body but the richness of the blood supply in the stomach, around the organs such as the liver and spleen, and in the bowel make these sites particularly vulnerable.
Internal bleeding is also likely to accompany some broken bones. The thigh bone protects the femoral artery and if broken may pierce it, causing a large and life-threatening bleed.
- Treatment for shock. Keep the person warm. Place him in a comfortable position, preferably lying down with the legs slightly raised. Reassure him. Treat any external bleeding or bleeding from orifices.
- Call 911 as soon as possible and explain what has happened.
Monitor and record the person’s pulse and breathing rates. This information will be useful for the medical staff in determining the extent of the injury.
If the person becomes unconscious, place in recovery position and monitor airway and breathing. Be prepared to resuscitate if necessary.
MAJOR ORGANS SUSCEPTIBLE TO INTERNAL BLEEDING
Internal bleeding can happen in any part of the body but the stomach, the liver, spleen, and intestines are particularly vulnerable because they have a rich blood supply. Internal bleeding can be very difficult to identify and signs and symptoms may not arise until several days after an accident has occurred.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- The person is known to have had an accident (not necessarily in the immediate past)
- Signs and symptoms of shock
- Boarding—this most commonly occurs where there is bleeding into the stomach area; the quantity of blood combined with the tissues swelling result in a rigidity to the tissues.
- Bleeding from the body orifices
If there is any combination of these signs and symptoms, suspect internal bleeding.
Less serious internal bleeding such as small bruises can be treated with a cold compress to relieve pain and reduce swelling. However, the possibility of further internal bleeding or underlying injury should not be ruled out, particularly if the victim is known, for example, to have hit his head on a window during a traffic accident, or has been hit in the stomach by a reversing automobile.