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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Human Bites

Human bite wounds, like animal bite wounds can be dangerous because the human mouth contains many different types of transmittable bacteria and viruses.

A person who has sustained a human bite wound that has broken the skin will need a tetanus shot within 48 hours if it has been over 5 years since their last booster.

The three general types of human bite injuries that can lead to complications are:

  • A closed-fist injury,
  • A chomping injury to the finger, and
  • A puncture-type wound to the head area caused by clashing with another person’s tooth.

First Aid for a human bite wound starts with stopping the bleeding:

  • Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.  Wash the wound with mild soap and water for several minutes under running water.
  • Pat the area dry and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Protect the wound from further accidental injury by applying a clean gauze or bandage.
  • Change the dressing and continue to apply a fresh layer of antibiotic ointment at least twice a day.
  • Monitor the area for signs of infection such as swelling, painful redness, or puss.

Call 911 if blood is spurting from the wound and cannot be stopped within 10 minutes because deeper bite wounds may require stitches.  Tell the emergency health care provider if the person suffering a human bite to the hand has stiffness, numbness, or trouble moving fingers.  These symptoms indicate potential damage to tendons or nerves.

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Back Pain

Back Pain affects 9 out of 10 people in their lifetime and can range from moderate to severe. A person experiencing severe back pain should consider recent activity in order to rule out a possible spinal injury as the cause. People with severe back pain who have:

  • been in an accident such as a motor-vehicle collision,
  • have recently slipped, tripped, or taken a fall,
  • frequently participate in contact sports, or
  • have recently fallen victim to a violent attack,

should contact a medical professional for further evaluation of possible spinal injury.

For most people, common back pain is generally caused by sprains and strains to the muscles around the spine. A strain is the result of a heavy load or sudden force applied to muscles not ready for activity. Sprains are caused by overstretching the ligaments that support the back area.

First Aid for common back pain starts with:

  • Hot and cold therapy.  Apply a cold pack (or a bag of ice) to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time. For back pain lasting longer than 2 days, a heating pad, hot bath, or hot shower can help relieve muscle tension and pain.
  • Rest the back for no more than 2 days.  Too much bed rest will cause the bones to lose calcium and weakens muscles.  This not only slows recovery, but can make a back problem worse.
  • After the first couple of days, engage in light exercises that do not put strain on the back such as: walking short distances, swimming or water aerobics, or riding a stationary bike.

90% of people with common back pain will recover within the first month. Treatment depends on the condition that is causing the back pain.  If back pain does not lessen with home treatment consult with a medical professional to evaluate other potential causes of severe back pain such as spinal misalignment, sciatica, or a slipped or ruptured disc.

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection in humans that is caused by a bacterium carried by ticks. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • a localized rash that gradually expands over several days. As the rash expands, part of the rash may clear and take the appearance of a bulls-eye. The rash is rarely itchy or painful, and usually feels warm to the touch.
  • Other early symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

Untreated, the Lyme disease bacterial infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body.  The spread of bacteria produces an array of specific symptoms that may come and go such as:

  • Lesions on the body
  • Loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face
  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Pain and swelling in large joints
  • Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
  • Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat

Lyme disease requires professional medical treatment. People who live in or have recently travelled to an area known for dense tick populations, that are experiencing any of these symptoms, should seek prompt medical attention!

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Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that develops in moist areas between the toes and on other parts of the foot. Athlete’s foot is contagious, but most cases can be easily treated at home. Symptoms of Athletes foot include:

  • Itching, stinging, and burning irritation in some areas of the feet,
  • Dry, cracking, scaling, and peeling skin between the toes or on the soles of the feet;
  • And ragged, thick, and discolored toenails that pull away from the nail bed.

First aid treatment of mild cases of athlete’s foot can be done at home.  There are many over-the-counter antifungal ointments, lotions, powders or sprays available. When using an over-the-counter remedy:

  • Thoroughly wash and dry the affected area.
  • Next, apply a thin layer of the topical agent according to package directions.
  • Keep your feet dry and let them air out as much as possible when at home.
  • When working, wear socks that are made of natural materials such as cotton or wool.  If your feet sweat a lot, try to change your socks at least twice a day.
  • To prevent spreading athlete’s foot fungus, wear waterproof shower shoes or sandals in communal showers, pools, and fitness centers.
  • If you don’t see an improvement after 2-4 weeks, or if the condition worsens, make an appointment to see your doctor. You may need a prescription-strength topical medication or oral medication to treat the athlete’s foot more effectively.

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