Bruises and blood clots both involve the blood vessels, but they differ greatly in potential seriousness. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between the two.
What causes bruises?
We’ve all had bruises, from bumping into the coffee table, tripping on a child’s toy, or sometimes an injury we don’t even remember. These bumps can damage small blood vessels called capillaries, usually close to the skin, and cause the familiar discoloration and raised lump.
They’ll usually heal within about a week, turning from the initial blackish purple color to a lighter yellow and then finally fading away. A bruise looks the color it does because the blood, which has burst out of the capillaries and is now trapped under the skin, is deprived of oxygen.
If you have a bruise that just isn’t healing or you find yourself bruising frequently, you should talk to your doctor. Some medical conditions, including vitamin deficiencies, can make you more likely to bruise. Medicines you’re taking, such as aspirin or prescription blood thinners, may also make you more prone to bruising.
What causes blood clots?
Blood clots are part of the body’s natural healing system. When you nick yourself chopping vegetables, for instance, blood platelets clump together in a clot to stop the bleeding. Normally, these clots then dissolve on their own, and you go on with your life.
Sometimes clots don’t dissolve though, or they form when they shouldn’t, when you haven’t actually been injured. This may happen because of problems with your blood or because of other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
When clots form in blood vessels, they can cause serious, potentially fatal problems. Many types of clots occur deep in the body and will not be visible on the skin, although the clots found in deep vein thrombosis in the legs or arms may cause swelling and a red or blue tinge to the skin.
What are the types of clots?
When an injury causes bleeding outside the blood vessel into the tissue around it, and that blood then clots, it’s called a hematoma. When blood clots inside a blood vessel, it’s called a thrombus.
Clots have different names and different symptoms depending on where in your body they form.
- A pulmonary embolusis a blood clot in the lung. It can cause chest pain and coughing and make you short of breath and dizzy.
- A strokeis a blood clot in the artery leading to the brain. Symptoms can include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, loss of vision, and slurred speech.
- A heart attackis a clot in the coronary artery. Symptoms can include chest or arm pain, nausea, sweating, and trouble breathing.
- Deep vein thrombosisis a clot in a leg vein that can cause swelling, pain, cramping, and skin discoloration in the leg. If not treated, these clots can travel to other parts of the body.
- Mesenteric ischemiais a clot in the artery leading to the intestine. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, and blood in the stool.
Who is at risk?
We all develop both bruises and blood clots, but some people are more likely to have dangerous blood clots. Some of the risk factors include:
- Age (over 60)
- Being overweight
- Using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Recovering from recent surgery
- High blood pressure
- Chronic inflammatory disease
- Sitting or lying in one position for a long period of time
If you have questions about the health of your blood vessels, please reach out to us. For more information on vein diseases and the treatments provided by the specialists at Palm Vein Center or to make an appointment, call 623-201-4777. We look forward to meeting you!
Talk to our team to learn more about the best conservative and interventional treatment options for your vein condition.
The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
For more information on vein diseases and the treatments provided by the specialists at Palm Vein Center or to make an appointment, call 623-201-4777. We look forward to meeting you!