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First Aid and Emergencies

Blunt Abdominal Wounds

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Blunt abdominal wounds caused by a blow to the stomach can cause severe bruising of the abdominal wall and bleeding from the internal organs. Such injuries are often caused by automobile, bicycle, sledding, or skiing accidents, when the victim is thrown into an object or to the ground.

An abdominal injury may cause the abdomen to become tender or rigid. The injured person may become confused and may not be able to remember what caused the injury. Signs of shock (faintness, weakness, drowsiness, or confusion; sweating and cool, clammy skin) may also develop.

Home Treatment

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  • Monitor the injured person's pulse and respiration rate. See Taking a Pulse See Counting Respiration Rates. If possible, monitor the person's blood pressure as well. A rapid, weak pulse, very rapid or very slow breathing, or falling blood pressure may indicate internal bleeding. If these signs develop, call 911 or take the person to the emergency room immediately.

  • Have the injured person lie down with the feet elevated above the heart. Loosen the person's clothing and cover him or her with a blanket for warmth. Do not give the person anything to eat or drink, even though he or she may be thirsty.

  • Watch for signs of shock (See Shock).

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If signs of shock or internal bleeding (See Shock) develop up to 48 hours after an abdominal injury.

  • If there is bleeding from the rectum, blood in the urine, or unexpected vaginal bleeding following a blow to the abdomen.

  • If the injury causes nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or loss of appetite.

  • If the person's abdomen is swollen and hard, or if pressing on the abdomen causes severe pain.

  • If you have any concerns about the symptoms you observe.

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