When Bruising is Cause for Concern
Sometimes seniors look down at their arms or legs and notice bruises but can’t recall the causes of them. It’s well known the harder a person bumps into something, the larger the bruise is. For some people, though, even minor bumps can cause large bruises with severe discoloration. As people age, bruising becomes more common, happening as a result of both large and small accidents. Although bruises usually heal without treatment, there are times when bruising can be a cause for concern.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few common reasons bruising becomes more frequent with age. With age, tissues that support people’s blood vessels weaken and the capillary walls become fragile. They become prone to rupture and, when they do, bruising occurs.
Another cause is thin skin. As people age, their skin becomes thinner. The skin loses some of the fatty layer that protects and cushions the blood vessels from injury when people bump into things. Sun exposure can also accelerate this aging process, making some people more vulnerable to bruising as they age.
Blood thinners, such as aspirin and warfarin, and dietary supplements, such as fish oils and gingko, can reduce the blood’s ability to clot. This means bleeding that would typically stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing for easier bruising. Just because this is happening to people doesn’t mean they should stop taking their medicines that can cause easier bruising. First, they should talk to their doctors.
Although bruising is typically normal and can be avoided, there are times when it can indicate something more serious such as a blood-clotting problem or a blood disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends certain instances when people should talk to their doctors. These instances include if bruises are large and painful, and if they develop for no reason; if bruising is frequent and there is abnormal bleeding elsewhere, such as from the nose, gums or intestinal tract; or if there is no history of bruising but then bruising starts occurring, especially after starting a new medicine. To diagnose the cause of serious bruising, your doctor may check your blood platelet levels or measure your blood’s ability to coagulate.
Bruises, both large and small, are ordinary results of bumping into chests or knocking into a table. Seniors are especially prone to bruising because of thinner skin, fragile tissues and certain medicines. It is important to notice the signs of abnormal bruising mentioned in this article to know when you need to see a doctor.