Major Bleeding

What is Major Bleeding?

Major bleeding is a medical emergency that occurs when a person loses more than 500 millilitres of blood, or about two cups, from any source. It can also be referred to as acute traumatic bleeding or haemorrhage. Loss of that amount of blood can quickly lead to hypovolemic shock if it is not treated properly. Hypovolemic shock is a medical condition caused by a sudden decrease in blood volume that results in an inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the body.

Major bleeding can be caused by several different things, including trauma, disease, and other health issues. In many cases, the bleeding can be quickly stopped with first aid measures. Other times, it may require more intense medical intervention, such as a hospital visit.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of major bleeding may include but are not limited to:

  • Heavy and frequent bleeding.
  • Blood loss visible by the naked eye.
  • Fainting or lightheadedness.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Pale skin tone.
  • Weak and rapid pulse.
  • Confusion or altered mental status.


Treatment for major bleeding includes:

  • Apply direct pressure: Direct pressure to the wound can help to stop the bleeding, whether it is from a cut, scrape, or puncture. If direct pressure does not stop the bleeding, seek medical help.
  • Elevate the wound: Elevating the wound above the level of the heart can help to decrease the amount of blood coming from the wound.
  • Seek medical help: If the bleeding is severe and does not stop with direct pressure or elevation, seek medical help immediately.
  • Blood transfusions: A person who has lost a lot of blood due to major bleeding may require a blood transfusion to replace the lost blood.
  • Medications: Medications such as antacids, antifibrinolytics, or clotting factors may be necessary to stop the bleeding.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to stop the bleeding if other treatments fail.


Some steps that may help reduce the risk of major bleeding include:

  • Maintain optimal health: Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and get regular check-ups at your doctor's office.
  • Wear protective gear: Wear protective gear while participating in activities that could lead to injury.
  • Check blood pressure regularly: If you have high blood pressure, check it regularly to help prevent bleeding caused by a ruptured blood vessel.
  • Be aware of medications: Be aware of any medications you are taking that can increase your risk of bleeding, such as anticoagulants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and aspirin.
  • Manage chronic conditions: Make sure to properly manage any chronic conditions you may have that can increase your risk of major bleeding.