Bleeding (or haemorrhaging) often occurs after an injury or due to a disease, causing damage to the blood vessels.
Bleeding injuries can occur outside the body (external bleeding) or inside (internal bleeding).
Three Types of Bleeding
There are three common types of bleeding, and they may differ in terms of location, blood flow, and severity.
The most severe and urgent type of bleeding that can result from a penetrating injury, blunt trauma, or severe damage to blood vessels.
The blood coming from the arteries is distinctive from other types of bleeding. The colour may appear bright red due to oxygen and may also appear in spurts and pulses (correlating to the heartbeat).
Arterial bleeding can be hard to control due to the pressure from the heartbeat, which makes blood difficult to clot or stops as easily.
A less severe type of bleeding but still requires immediate medical attention as it can escalate quickly.
The blood coming from the vein is dark red because of the lesser amount of oxygen. Treatment for venous bleeding involves the same treatment as it does with arterial bleeding.
Instead of spurting blood, capillary bleeding involves blood oozed from the damaged body part.
Capillary bleeding is the less severe of the three, as it typically happens due to injury to the skin. It is also the easiest to manage as the source comes from blood vessel surface rather than inside the body.
First Aid Treatment
First responders should be competent in stopping the bleed and dealing with major blood loss.
For uncontrolled bleeding injuries, make sure the area and victim are safe to approach. Once scene is deemed clear of risks, go to the person and look for the source of the bleed.
It is important to remember that any attempt to try and control the bleed is better than doing nothing.
Start with the ABCs of Bleeding Management:
- A – Alert
Call triple zero (000) and ask for emergency assistance. It is vital to get emergency responders to the scene as soon as possible.
While waiting for EMS to arrive, try to locate the source of life-threatening bleeding.
- B – Bleeding
Find the source of the bleed by looking at the arms, legs, neck, groin, abdomen, and other possible areas.
- C – Compress
Once found, apply pressure to the source to stop the bleeding. Use a clean gauze or piece of clothing that covers the wound.
Continue holding the gauze to the wound with both hands until the bleeding stops. Once it stops, clean the injury site thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection.
If the bleeding did not slow down or stop after several attempts, and the injury is located on an arm or leg, the last option would be a tourniquet.
Tourniquets work by squeezing large blood vessels to help control blood loss while waiting for help to arrive.
When to seek help
Seek medical help if the person is experiencing severe external bleeding or is suspected of internal bleeding.
Early first aid intervention from the bystanders and the paramedics helps prevent the occurrence of shock and even death.
Regardless of the type of bleeding, you should call emergency services or have a trip to the ER for the best outcome.
The three main types of bleeding are arterial (arteries), venous (vein), and capillary (skin). These names are from the blood vessels, which is where the source of blood comes from.
Severe bleeding is considered a life-threatening emergency that can cause hemorrhagic shock and death. A person experiencing a heavy external bleed or suspects an internal bleed must receive immediate first aid treatment.