What is internal bleeding?

Internal bleeding is blood loss occurring within your body. Because it occurs inside your body, internal bleeding may go unnoticed initially. If the bleeding is rapid, enough blood may build up to press on internal structures or to form a bulge or discoloration under your skin. Severe internal bleeding can cause shock and loss of consciousness.

Symptoms vary based on the location and rate of blood loss. Slow internal bleeding can cause the gradual onset of anemia, resulting in energy loss, tiredness, shortness of breath, and paleness. Gastrointestinal bleeding may cause blood in the stool or vomit. Similarly, urinary tract bleeding can make the urine bloody.

Hemophilia (rare hereditary disorder in which blood does not clot normally) or other bleeding disorders, anticlotting medications, and trauma are some of the risk factors for internal bleeding. Medical conditions, such as liver disease, and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and indomethacin (Indocin), can also increase the risk of internal bleeding.

Although internal bleeding may occasionally resolve on its own, it can have very serious consequences. Generally, treatment involves stabilization of vital functions, such as circulation and respiration, identification of the bleeding site, control of blood loss, and repairing any damage related to the bleeding. Blood transfusions may be needed if a significant amount of blood has been lost.

Internal bleeding can have serious, even life-threatening consequences. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms, such as:

  • Bleeding while pregnant
  • Bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria) or not producing any urine
  • Chest pain or pressure or rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Cold and clammy skin, pale skin or pallor, bluish coloration of the lips or fingernailsConfusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Head injury
  • Obvious deformity or broken bones
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid swelling
  • Rectal bleeding or bloody stool
  • Severe pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness (loss of strength)


What other symptoms might occur with internal bleeding?

Symptoms accompanying internal bleeding vary based on the location and speed of blood loss. Pain may or may not be present. Rapid bleeding can quickly cause weakness, dizziness, shock and unconsciousness. Slower bleeding may ultimately cause anemia, with the gradual onset of tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, and p... Read more about internal bleedingsymptoms


What causes internal bleeding?

Internal bleeding can occur as a result of trauma or with a variety of medical conditions. The risk is increased with clotting abnormalities and anti-clotting medications.

Nontraumatic causes of internal bleeding

Although internal bleeding is often due to trauma, it may also be caused by a variety of conditions including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation