First-Aid: How to Stop Bleeding with First-Aid

Some helpful thoughts

1. For every stone of body weight we have approximately one pint of blood.

2. The average healthy adult can lose up to 850 ml without serious effect. In children, half a pint can be critical.

3. When you cut yourself the amount of blood lost always looks a lot more then it actually is, so do not panic.

4. Severe bruising can remove more blood from the circulation than may a fair sized cut. For example, a fractured thigh can cause a loss of up to three pints of blood yet there is no visible bleeding.

5. Forget whatever you have been told about pressure points — they are hard to find in dressed people and even harder to keep pressure on for long periods.

6. Mild bleeding stops of its own accord because the body has a ‘plugging up’ mechanism that comes into play when the blood vessels are damaged. Simply apply firm pressure over the area until bleeding stops.

7. Stopping severe bleeding is essential, life-saving, and should be done as follows :

(i) Do not delay, do something at once. Get someone else to call a doctor or an ambulance.


(ii) Raise the bleeding part where possible. This reduces the blood flow to some extent simply by reducing the effect of gravity. If you think the part might be fractured, do not raise it.

(iii) Apply pressure to the wound. Use your fingers and thumb to close the edges of the wound together. Grab it hard — do not be afraid of hurting the person. Do not waste time washing your hands.

(iv) If this does not seem to be producing results, ask someone to get you a freshly laundered cloth of any kind make it into a pad large enough to cover the wound and press it firmly on to the would for 10 minutes. If you are on your own, use your handkerchief and tie it on as a dressing.

Could there be internal bleeding?

Any serious accident can be complicated by internal bleeding even though the injured person seems and feels well (at first anyway). Invisible bleeding can be just as serious as visible bleeding.

Symptoms :

1. Bruising — especially over a large area or over the trunk
2. Dizziness
3. Cold, clammy, sweaty skin
4. Rapid, weak pulse
5. Difficult breathing
6. Frothy blood being coughed up
7. Severe abdominal pain
8. Evidence of a fracture.

Action :

Treat for shock, get professional help quickly.

Some special bleeding problems

Nose bleed

1. Sit down, preferably at a table. Put a bowl under your nose on the table.

2. Grasp the soft part of your nose firmly between your thumb and index finger.

3. Lean your head forwards and hold your nose for 10 minutes — this cures the vast majority of nose bleeds.

4. Never ignore a nose bleed in someone who has hit his head or had a fall, especially if the nose is discharging clear fluid as well as blood. This is a sign of a fractured skull and needs immediate medical attention.

5. Once a nose bleed has stopped, do not blow or sniff. You will dislodge the clot and have to start all over again.

6. If you have lots of nose bleeds, tell your doctor.

Bleeding from the back passage

This is almost always caused by piles. See your doctor for advice. Never ignore bleeding from your back passage. If the bleeding is accompanied by a sharp pain, you may have torn the skin because you are constipated. Eat plenty of high fibre foods (vegetables, whole meal bread, bran-containing breakfast cereals) and you will not be troubled again. This is also good treatment for early piles.

Bleeding tongue

Sit as with a nose bleed. Grasp the tongue with a freshly laundered handkerchief. Press for 10 minutes.

Bleeding tooth socket

Usually happens after a tooth extraction.Do not wash out the mouth or you’ll disturb clot formation. Sit up as for nose bleeding. Put a thick wad of gauze or similar material over the socket area and bite hard on it. Do this for 10 minutes and then gently remove the dressing. If bleeding persists, telephone the dentist who did the extraction.

Bleeding into the urine

If your urine is bloody there is nothing you can or should do except tell your doctor. It can be caused by trivial or serious conditions but needs thorough investigation. (Beetroot, some sweets and some constipation medicines can make your urine red).

Bleeding from the stomach

Most likely caused by a bleeding ulcer. Blood in vomit can be red, brown or black like coffee grounds. The colour indicates how long it has been in the stomach. (It darkens with time.) Keen the person lying down. Watch for shock and get medical help.

Beware of red foods when worrying about blood in vomit. It is usually easy to tell beetroot, red peppers and tomatoes from vomited fresh red blood if your look carefully.

Bleeding scalp

The scalp is especially rich in blood vessels and bleeds profusely even from small cuts. Apply pressure to the cut area for 10 minutes using a freshly laundered handkerchief. If the bleeding does not stop (and it might well not, unlike other areas of the body) go to hospital for stitches. Remember that any wound of the scalp may be accompanied by a fracture of the skull. If you feel peculiar in any way, have difficulty with speaking or coordination, feel drowsy or have any watery or blood stained fluid from your nose or ears, get medical help at once.

Bleeding from the lungs

The strain of repeated coughing can cause tiny streaks of blood to be coughed up. Heavier bleeding from disease or injury to the chest needs medical attention and is usually pink and frothy. If bleeding is heavy, go to hospital at once or call an ambulance.

Bleeding from the ear

Any bleeding from inside the ear must be treated with respect. In any person who has fallen or possibly hit his head, think of a fractured skull if blood comes from the ear, especially if it is accompanied by clear, watery fluid. Get medical help.

Bleeding varicose veins

Press over the bleeding point with or without a dressing. Raise the leg on a stool or chair as you lie on the floor, remove stockings and garters and bandage a dressing or freshly laundered handkerchief over the area. Talk to your doctor about long term treatment of the various veins.

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