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We all suffer cuts and scrapes from time to time. For the most part, these minor injuries can be treated at home. But if you receive a severe external wound that spurts or causes a great deal of steady bleeding, it is possible that an artery or vein has been cut. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and heart to the rest of the body; veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart and lungs. If an artery is cut, it will bleed oxygenated blood that is bright red in color. Oxygen-poor blood coming from a cut vein is a dark, bluish red.
Hundreds of miles of blood vessels run to every living organ and tissue. If blood flow to any part of the body is cut off, that part will die. Brain cells die after three to four minutes without a fresh supply of blood. If you are bleeding heavily, emergency treatment is necessary.
General recommendations for severe bleeding
Once the crisis is over and you are well enough to leave the hospital, ask your doctor for recommendations regarding diet, activity restrictions, and other measures to support recovery.
Preventive measures for severe bleeding
The best way to prevent an injury that causes severe bleeding is to take sensible precaution to avoid accidents. For example, drive defensively, and always wear your seat belt. Don't drink and drive. If you own a gun, keep it unloaded and locked up. Wear proper protective gear when operating power tools, including lawnmowers.
Treatment for severe bleeding
- Seek emergency medical treatment. Rely on medical personnel to take over and stabilize your body. You may require a blood transfusion or the administration of intravenous saline solution to maintain fluid levels.
- On reaching the hospital, you may require sutures or surgery to repair the damage that caused the bleeding.
- Once the wound has been treated and you are well enough to leave the hospital, medical personnel will advise you on the proper way to care for yourself as you recover from your injury. Ask your doctor for recommendations regarding diet, actively level, special exercises, and any measures necessary to guard against complications.
- A substance known as type II collagen can be applied as a gel or powder to protect the injury, speed healing, and reduce scarring.
In the case of a severe external wound, have someone call immediately for emergency help.
- Cover the bleeding wound with a clean cloth or gauze, and quickly apply very firm, steady pressure. If there is no clean cloth or gauze readily available, use your bare hand to apply pressure. Even if the pressure hurts, continue applying very firm, steady pressure. It is necessary to stop the bleeding.
- If there is no suspicion of a spinal injury, raise the wound above the level of your heart to help minimize the amount of blood that spurts from the wound with every beat of your heart. Signs of a spinal injury include pain at the site of the injury, weakness or numbness in an extremity. If any of these signs are present, do not allow anyone to move you. Any movement may worsen the injury.
- If the blood soaks through the cloth pad or gauze, put more cloth or gauze over the old pad and continue applying pressure. It is best not to remove the original blood-soaked pad. Any early clotting may become dislodged if you attempt to change the bandage.
- If emergency medical personnel are not already on their way to you have someone take you to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. If you are alone, call for emergency assistance.
- Despite what you may have seen in the movies tourniquets are to be avoided. Because it cuts off the blood supply, a tourniquet deprives the tissues below the wound of oxygen creating the risk of losing a limb. Continue to apply enough pressure to atem the bleeding while you wait or go for emergency help.