Is frequent bruising indicative of a bigger problem? Most likely not says the Mayo Clinic because as we age people bruise more easily. The reason for this is older skin is thinner and has lost some of its fatty layers that used to work as a cushion to protect blood vessels from injury. Also women are more prone to bruising than men.
The medical term for a bruise is contusion, and is typically caused when small blood vessels near the skin’s surface are ruptured by an impact from an injury or a blow to the area. This causes blood to start leaking out of the vessels and create the visible black-and-blue mark (ecchymosis) of a bruise. As the body reabsorbs the blood, the bruise begins to heal.
The Mayo Clinic says that certain medications can cause bruising such as aspirin and anticoagulants such as Coumadin® that thin the blood and reduces its ability to clot. This means that “bleeding from capillary damage might take longer than usual to stop — which allows enough blood to leak out and cause a bruise.” Dietary supplements like fish oil and ginkgo have a blood thinning effect that can also increase the risk for bruising.
However bruising can sometimes be a sign of serious medical conditions such as low levels or abnormally functioning platelets. They can also indicate problems with the proteins that help to clot blood. The Mayo Clinic recommends consulting your doctor if large bruises appear on your body, if they are painful, or you start bruising after beginning a new medication. Additionally check with your doctor if a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard as it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.
To prevent bruising, Dr. Aarthi Anand, a board certified geriatrician and family medicine practitioner, suggests removing furniture and other obstacles to create a clear path throughout the home to avoid bumps and falls. If you or your loved one is unsteady on their feet, install handrails when possible and consider using a walker or cane.
This post is intended for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.
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