The Symptoms and Causes of Broken Blood Vessel
A broken blood vessel can be a particular nuisance, especially if the rupture occurs in a place of high visibility, such as the face or the eye. What most people are unaware of is that the term blood vessel actually includes many different types of tubing in which blood is transferred through. The main three which we will discuss are arteries, veins, and capillaries. The type of broken blood vessel most often suffered is a broken capillary, but we are going to discuss the causes and symptoms of rupture of all three types of blood vessel. Let’s begin by describing the function of each type of vessel.
Going from the largest to smallest in blood-carrying capacity, the sequence of blood vessels generally goes arteries, veins, and then capillaries. Arteries are large tubes that are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. They are a bit more muscular in composition than veins. As the arteries travel through the main parts of the body, such as the neck and head, torso, arms, and legs, they branch off into fine tubes to better access the rest of the body. These fine branches are called capillaries. The series of large and small tubing that runs throughout the body are called veins. The main responsibility of the vein system is to carry the de-oxygenated blood from the body back to the heart to become oxygenated. From there, the process starts all over again.
An artery, vein, or capillary rupture can be caused by a number of circumstances. Most often a rupture is caused by an excessive amount of force applied either externally or internally to the blood vessel that causes the blood to pool until the tubing can no longer contain it. Arteries and veins are pretty tough, but they do have a capacity limit. Think of the blood vessels as balloons. If the balloons keep getting filled with water and are not allowed to release any pressure, they will eventually burst. Excessive strain, such as overexertion during exercise, can cause a blood vessel to rupture, as can a severe hit to the body, and arterial “plaque”. The last is not the same as the plaque on your teeth, but the overall concept is pretty similar. The interior walls of an artery should be smooth under normal circumstances, but sometimes they can become clogged with substances such as calcium, cholesterol, and fat, which travel through the blood. Arterial plaque in conjunction with high blood pressure makes a serious recipe for a broken blood vessel.
The symptoms of a ruptured artery are likely to start off abruptly. It is important to understand that a ruptured artery is considered a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as possible. The first noticeable symptom is pain in the area of the artery that has ruptured. For instance, if the rupture occurred in the “abdominal aorta”, the pain is mostly going to be felt in the abdominals, but can also be felt in the back and sides. After pain, the symptoms most likely to be noticed are nausea, vomiting, and lightheadedness. In cases where the rupture occurs in an artery in the brain, a stroke can occur. In any case, there is a likelihood that the sufferer will fall into shock, which should be treated immediately.
The symptoms of a ruptured vein and ruptured capillaries are somewhat similar, but specific symptoms vary depending on where the rupture occurs. A rupture in the brain could cause headaches, dizziness or double vision, weakness, trouble speaking, and even a tingling sensation. If a broken blood vessel is suspected in the brain, medical treatment should be sought immediately. The most common types of vein and capillary ruptures result in a painful swelling near the source of the rupture. It may appear purplish in color (known as a bruise) or the skin underneath may immediately turn a dark red color. Blood vessels may even rupture in the eye, which can be a little scary and uncomfortable. For the most part, this sort of rupture isn’t really painful but can cause blurred vision, bloodshot eyes or a redness that fills a portion of the “white” of the eye, as well as excessive dryness.
If an artery or a large vein has popped, or even if one suspects that it might have, it is important to seek medical attention at once. When a blood vessel of any sort bursts, it means that blood is flowing out into the body. In minor cases, such as a bruise resulting from a few damaged capillaries, the body will repair itself within a few weeks and medical attention is usually not necessary. If there is ever any doubt as to the severity of a broken blood vessel, a medical evaluation should be sought.