Symptoms of Internal Bleeding After a Car Accident

Office Information
Hasbrook & Hasbrook
400 N Walker Ave #130, Oklahoma City, OK
Phone: (405) 605-2426

Some car accident injuries, such as lacerations and broken bones, are immediately obvious from a glance at the victim.  However, internal injuries and internal bleeding can’t be recognized so quickly unless you know what symptoms and warning signs to watch out for.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Internal Bleeding?

Oklahoma truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other auto accidents can exert massive force upon vehicle occupants.  Even if the body is not punctured or penetrated, a powerful enough external blow can still cause serious damage to internal tissue. Doctors use the terms blunt force trauma, blunt trauma, or blunt injury to describe severe, non-penetrating injuries. Blunt force trauma is a common outcome of vehicular accidents, particularly in high-speed collisions.  Depending on which area of the body is impacted, the effects of blunt force trauma may include traumatic brain injury (TBI), bone fractures, changes in physical sensation, loss of strength or mobility in the affected area, and internal bleeding. Internal bleeding, sometimes described as hemorrhaging (intracranial hemorrhage or bleeding inside the skull), can be life-threatening and must be treated promptly.  If you notice any of the following symptoms after a car accident, which may take several hours, you could be bleeding internally and should call a doctor immediately:

  • Blood in your stool or urine.
  • Headaches, if the bleeding is concentrated in the skull.
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed.
  • Intensifying pain and/or swelling in the affected area.
  • Large bruises or skin discoloration.
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood.

Other than automotive accidents, internal bleeding can also be caused by slip and fall injuries, falls from heights, and object strikes, a common hazard on construction sites.  In some cases, profuse bleeding can occur with minimal or no trauma. Medication errors involving blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medications can significantly increase the patient’s risk of hemorrhage. The risk cannot be eliminated even when these medications are used properly.  The National Library of Medicine warns that something as simple as blowing your nose too hard could cause bleeding while taking Xarelto (rivaroxaban), Coumadin/Jantoven (warfarin), or other prescription blood thinners.

How is Internal Hemorrhaging Treated?

While internal bleeding sometimes stops, you should never gamble on this outcome.  Without swift medical intervention, continued bleeding can cause the patient to go into shock, lose consciousness, enter a coma, and die.  Only a doctor can decide what sort of treatment is needed. Unless the internal injury and resulting blood loss are minor, a surgeon will probably need to repair the torn or damaged tissue to stop the bleeding.  The type of surgery required will depend on which organ or area of the body is affected.  Potential surgical procedures the patient may need to undergo include:

  • Craniotomy – In medical terminology, the suffix “-otomy” means creating an incision. “Cranio-” refers to the skull. Therefore, a craniotomy is a small hole or incision made in the skull.  A craniotomy (or related procedure) aims to relieve the pressure that builds up as blood pools and accumulates within the affected area.
  • Exploratory Laparotomy – A laparotomy involves making a large incision in the abdomen. The surgeon can then enter through the incision to access the patient’s abdominal cavity, which houses the stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine (colon), kidneys, spleen, and other organs.
  • Fasciotomy – A fasciotomy is an incision into the thigh. Severe bleeding inside the leg is often caused by a broken femur (thighbone).
  • Thoracotomy – A thoracotomy is an incision into the chest and rib area of the thorax. The thoracic cavity houses the heart, lungs, and other organs.