The Physiology of Bleeding

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Walking through the brush, trees and thorns you will cut or scratch yourself. You might fall down and suffer a deep wound resulting in bleeding, bleeding that you need to control. Severe blood loss can result in death. Even a minor cut if not treated properly can lead to infections. There are three kinds of bleeding that you will be faced with depending on the source of the blood. These are arterial, venous and capillary bleeding.

Severe bleeding from any major blood vessel in the body is extremely dangerous. The loss of one litre of blood will produce moderate symptoms of shock. The loss of two litres will produce a severe state of shock placing the body in extreme danger. The loss of three litres is usually fatal.

As the name suggests, arterial bleeding occurs when bloods flows from an artery. The blood is bright red in colour, due to the high degree of oxygen in it, it spurts out rather than oozes out, and the amount of blood loss can be a lot and is more difficult to contain.

Venous bleeding occurs from a broken vein. The blood is dark red and the flow is steady instead of in spurts and is easier to control.

Capillary bleeding usually occurs in superficial wounds, such as abrasions and will generally ooze out rather than flow out.

In any of the above cases, first clean the wound with water, medical alcohol or antiseptic solution. Remove debris, earth, dirt and other contaminants. If bleeding continues, apply direct pressure on the wound with your fingers or hand. Place a clean dressing over the wound, apply a bulky pad extending beyond the edge of the wound and firmly bandage it. If bleeding continues, place a second bandage over the first one.

Most bleeding will be through veins. Arterial bleeding is less common, though more critical, where the blood will spurt, not clot easily and applying direct pressure may not control the bleeding. First, apply direct pressure with your fingers and hands to control the bleeding. If that does not work, and as a last resort, use a tourniquet. This should stop or lessen the bleeding. Every few minutes release the tourniquet to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, reapply. A tourniquet cuts blood circulation which can lead to permanent tissue damage. Severe bleeding can kill a person and applying a tourniquet will save him from bleeding to death, but maybe at the cost of a limb.

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