Hemorrhage

Hemorrhage is bleeding from a damaged blood vessel. Many things can cause hemorrhage inside and outside the body. Types of hemorrhage range from minor, such as a bruise, to major, such as bleeding in the brain. If you can’t stop external bleeding or suspect internal bleeding, seek immediate medical attention.

Overview

What is hemorrhage?

Hemorrhage is loss of blood from a damaged blood vessel. The bleeding can be inside or outside the body, and blood loss can be minor or major.

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Possible Causes

What are the most common causes of hemorrhage?

There are many possible causes of hemorrhage, including:

Depending on the location or cause, a hemorrhage might be called:

How might bleeding make me feel?

The way a hemorrhage makes you feel varies a lot, depending on where it is and how severe it is. For example, with a bruise, you may have only mild discomfort compared to head injury. Another example: Hemorrhage in the brain may cause headache, but in the chest it may cause trouble breathing.

Serious blood loss may make you feel:

  • Cool when someone touches your skin.
  • Dizzy.
  • Tired.
  • Nauseous.
  • Short of breath.
  • Weak.

If severe hemorrhage is left untreated, you may experience:

  • Chest pain.
  • Confusion.
  • Faster breathing or heart rate.
  • Organ failure.
  • Seizures.
  • Shock.
  • Coma or death.
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Care and Treatment

How is bleeding treated?

Treatment for hemorrhage depends on:

  • Where it is in the body.
  • How serious the hemorrhage is.
  • How much blood may have been lost.
  • How the person is feeling overall (for example, symptoms or other injuries).

Sometimes, external bleeding can be stopped with first aid:

  • Apply pressure to the wound with your hands.
  • Find a dressing (clean cloth) and press on the wound.
  • Tie a tourniquet near the wound, but toward the heart. You can make a tourniquet from something tied very tightly, such as a stretchy band, cloth or belt.
  • Call 911.

Seek immediate medical attention for external bleeding that won’t stop, or for suspected internal bleeding. It should be treated in an emergency room.

When to Call the Doctor

Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else is bleeding externally or may be bleeding internally and:

  • Can’t breathe normally.
  • Coughs or spits up blood.
  • Faints.
  • Has bleeding that can’t be stopped.
  • Has severe chest or belly pain.
  • Has cold or “clammy” skin.
  • Is dizzy, light-headed or confused.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Hemorrhage is loss of blood from a damaged blood vessel. It can be minor such as a bruise or major such as damage to an internal organ. External bleeding is visible and may be easier to notice, but be aware of the signs of internal bleeding. Seek medical attention if you are unsure.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/14/2021.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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