Severe Bleeding

Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging, describes the loss of blood from the circulatory system.

Bleeding can occur internally or externally, either through a natural opening such as the nose, ear, or mouth; or from a cut, scrape, or puncture to the skin.

Typically, a healthy person can endure a loss of 10–15% of their total blood volume before being at risk for serious medical complication.

First Aid for a person suffering from severe blood loss is crucial, if you are alone with a person who is bleeding profusely, immediately:

  • Lie the person down.
  • Put on a pair of gloves if you have them.
  • Check to see if a limb or extremity is the source of the bleeding injury, and if the limb does not appear to be fractured or broken, raise the injured area above the level of the person’s heart.
  • Get the person to apply direct pressure to the wound with their hand or hands to stem the blood flow, and immediately call 911.  If the person cannot apply pressure themselves, do it for them. You may need to pull the edges of the wound together before applying any pressure.
  • If an object is noticeably imbedded in the wound, do not remove the object as this may increase bleeding. Instead, apply pressure around the object.
  • As soon as the bleeding is controlled, call 911.
  • While waiting for 911, continue to apply pressure to the injury but do not apply a tourniquet. If it is done incorrectly, it may lead to an unnecessary serious injury to or loss of the leg or arm. If blood begins to saturate the dressing, do not remove it. Instead, add fresh padding over the top. If the injury occurred at home, cover the wound with a dressing, using sterile pads and a bandage (if possible) to hold them firmly in place until help arrives.

If the victim goes into shock before help arrives, do your best to protect them from breathing obstructions.  If possible, turn them on their side and loosen any restrictive clothing around the airway.  Check their breathing and pulse frequently, and begin CPR if necessary.

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Black Eye

A black eye is the result of an injury that causes bruising around the eye.  The bruising is typically caused by bleeding beneath the skin surrounding the eye. Sometimes, a black eye can indicate a more serious injury to the eye itself, and even a possible skull fracture.

Although most black eye injuries aren’t serious, bleeding within the eye is considered to be very serious. Bleeding in the eye area can reduce vision and damage the cornea. Call 911 immediately if the person displays symptoms of:

  • Bleeding from the eyeball
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision entirely
  • Confusion, dizziness, or loss of consciousness or
  • Two black eyes, which can indicate a serious injury to the head.

First Aid for minor black eye injuries can be performed by:

  • Applying a cold pack, ice, or a cold washcloth to the injury at least twice a day for the first 48 hours.  If using ice, use only one or two cubes at a time to avoid putting undesired pressure on the eye area.
  • Do not place a steak over the eye area.  Placing a steak over the eye is a common myth for black eye treatment.  However, a frozen bag of vegetables, such as peas, can be used as a lightweight alternative to applying a cold pack or ice.
  • If needed, use only acetaminophen or Tylenol for pain.  Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen when treating pain because these medications can potentially increase the risk of bleeding.
  • After 48 hours, switch from cold therapy to heat therapy by applying a warm compress for further treatment of the eye injury.

As with any injury, if the eye area does not improve, worsens, or begins to impair vision, seek medical attention right away.

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