Bleeding Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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What are bleeding problems?

Bleeding can range in severity from a simple bruise to blood in the urine, stool, or sputum (mucus and phlegm). Bleeding can occur from any body part including the digestive tract, blood vessels, eyes, brain, and joints. Bleeding from the surface of the body, such as from a puncture wound, is often promptly identified and treated; whereas, internal bleeding is much more difficult to track and diagnose.

Abnormal spontaneous bleeding occurs as a consequence of vascular injury, decreased platelet number and function, absent or ineffective clotting factors, and deficient blood clot formation.

People who take blood-thinning medication or who have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia, are at risk for severe and prolonged bleeding because their blood does not clot properly. However, these types of conditions usually can be well managed when you adhere to your overall treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. Severe bleeding and suspected internal bleeding need a prompt professional medical diagnosis.

Types of bleeding symptoms:

What other symptoms might occur with bleeding?

Bleeding may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition including:

  • Fecal incontinence (inability to control stools)
  • Joint stiffness or immobility
  • Pale skin
  • Rectal pain
  • Swelling of extremities
  • Urgent need to pass stool
  • Weight loss

    Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

    In some cases, bleeding might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, are exhibiting any of these  life-threatening symptoms:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
    • Rapid pulse
    • Rigid, board-like abdomen
    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Vomiting blood or black material (resembling coffee grounds)

    What causes bleeding symptoms?

    Bleeding symptoms, such as bloody stools and vomit, are often due to gastrointestinal bleeding. Here the precipitating cause is known and the bleeding will usually subside on its own (normal hemostatis). However, excessive unexplained bleeding or bruising can be caused by bleeding disorders and other severe diseases such as leukemia.

    Gastrointestinal causes of bleeding symptoms

    Gastrointestinal causes of bleeding include:

    Other causes of bleeding symptoms

    Other causes of bleeding symptoms include:

    • Acute bronchitis

    • Blood-thinning medications

    • Brain trauma

    • Hemophilia (rare hereditary disorder in which blood does not clot normally)

    • Hemorrhagic fever (viral infection)

    • Injury

    • Leukemia (cancer of the blood or bone marrow)

    • Liver disease

    • Long-term use of antibiotics

    • Menorrhagia (heavy bleeding during menstrual period)

    • Radiation therapy

    • Thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count; platelets help form clots to stop blood loss)

    • Vitamin K deficiency

    • Von Willebrand’s disease (a hereditary bleeding disorder)

    Serious or life-threatening causes of bleeding symptoms:

    Any bleeding symptom you develop should be evaluated by a physician or health care professional. In some cases, bleeding may be due to a serious or life-threatening condition including:

    What are the potential complications of bleeding symptoms?

    Over time, bleeding symptoms can lead to serious complications including:

    • Anemia

    • Severe blood loss

    • Shock

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    Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
    Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 11
    View All Symptoms and Conditions Articles
    THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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    2. Dysentery. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/topics/dysentery/en/
    3. How to Deal with Hemophilia. Nemours. http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/blood/hemophilia.html.
    4. What is Hemophilia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hemophilia/hemophilia_what.html.
    5. Urine-bloody. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003138.htm.
    6. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.