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.

Bleeding Problems Spotlight

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 vomiting blood, rectal bleeding or bloody stool, bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria), rapid swelling, obvious deformity, broken bones, head injury, cold and clammy skin, pale skin or pallor, bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails, difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), weakness (loss of strength), severe pain, not producing any urine, profuse sweating, confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, or bleeding while pregnant.

SYMPTOMS

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 pallor. Bleeding into the gastrointestinal or urinary tract can cause blood in the stool, vomit or urine.... Read more about internal bleedingsymptoms

CAUSES

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.... Read more about internal bleedingcauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 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