Symptoms and Signs of Internal Bleeding

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is when blood vessels within the body are damaged and/or torn so that blood leaks out of the any of the blood vessels. The symptoms of internal bleeding very depending upon what part of the body is involved or what organ system is damaged and how much blood is lost into tissues or other areas. For example, shock (rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, cool and sweaty skin and mental status changes) may occur if large amounts of blood are lost. Large amounts of blood may be lost during pregnancy or at the time of delivery. Blood outside of vessels is irritating in may cause pain and inflammation; blood in the peritoneum cause intense pain, blood that irritates the diaphragm may cause chest pain, blood in the brain can cause stroke symptoms including vomiting, seizures, loss of vision and weakness or death. Bleeding in the kidney or bladder may result in blood in the urine; similarly, bleeding in the G.I. tract may produce blood in the stools or black tarry stools.

The causes of internal bleeding are numerous. Anything that damages, weakens, rips or cuts blood vessels (trauma) can be a cause. Examples of such agents are high blood pressure, aneurysms, medications like warfarin, accidents (compression and/or deceleration injuries), bleeding disorders, liver failure (clotting factors not adequate), ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, surgical bleeding and/or combinations of causes.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.