Bumps and Bruises: When There's More Going On
Getting a bump or a bruise every once in a while is just a normal part of life. From our earliest days toddling around the house, we all get our share of assorted contusions, bruises, and other boo-boos. When these happen, we typically dig out the first aid supplies and apply an ice pack or other treatment. Normally, they begin to improve in a day or so and are soon forgotten.
Older people often bruise more easily because their blood vessels are more fragile, and because their mobility may be limited in a way that makes them more likely to experience falls and bumps.
But bruises aren't always so harmless. They can signal a potentially serious health condition that's going on in that area of the body or even throughout the entire body. Some potential hazards can include:
Blood Thinner Issues
Many people take prescription blood thinners, and others maintain a regimen of taking a daily aspirin. In both cases, the idea is to reduce clotting in the body, typically prescribed for people with coronary issues or a history of heart attacks. Other people may experience blood clots due to medications or smoking.
The individual dosage for blood thinners is oftentimes determined by trial and error. Patients can spend several days in the hospital while doses are adjusted and tested, but those rates may need adjustment at a later time, as well.
When conditions in the body change and the existing dose of thinner is too high, the blood vessels can rupture more easily, creating bruising. These bruises can be very stubborn because it's so easy for blood to begin leaking again. Consequently, anyone who takes blood thinners and experiences problems with bruising should see the doctor and discuss changes in medication.
Hemophilia is a condition in which the blood does not properly clot. There is a shortage of thrombocytes, also known as platelets, in the patient's blood. These special cells are assigned to stop any bleeding that takes place and create a temporary patch in a damaged blood vessel while a more permanent healing takes place.
People with undiagnosed hemophilia often experience inordinate bleeding and bruising. A simple cut from shaving or a bumped shin at the kitchen table can lead to surprisingly severe results.
Hemophilia can be deadly with more serious injuries, such as those experienced in a workplace accident or car crash, so those annoying bruises could actually end up saving your life if you take action when you see signs of hemophilia. If you experience an undue amount of bleeding from a cut, or if you feel like you are bruising too easily, see a doctor.
Leukemia and Other Cancers
Perhaps the most dreaded possibility of your excessive or persistent bruising is the chance that it is due to some form of cancer. The various incarnations of this disease can manifest themselves with a variety of symptoms, many of which seem as harmless as bruising and discoloration.
The most important step to take is not to jump to conclusions. As noted above — and as can be seen in dozens of other reasons for bruises — a persistent or unusually large bruise can be caused by a wide array of conditions. And even if it does turn out to be cancer, many forms are very treatable and curable.
Do not let yourself become complacent. When your body tells you that something isn't right, pay attention. Follow up with your doctor and investigate the root cause before it becomes worse.
Ashley Andrews blogs about health, fitness and lifestyle.