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Hematoma (cont.)

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What are the symptoms and signs of a hematoma?

Symptoms of a hematoma generally depend on its size and location. Pain, swelling, redness, and disfiguring bruises are common symptoms of hematoma in general. Some symptoms specific to the location of a hematoma are:

  • Subdural hematoma: headache, neurologic problems (weakness on one side, difficulty speaking, falling), confusion, seizures
  • Epidural hematoma: back pain, weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Subungual hematoma: nail pain, nail weakness, nail loss, disfiguring nail
  • Splenic, hepatic, or peritoneal hematoma: abdominal pain, flank pain

Sometimes there are not any symptoms at all associated with even a very large hematoma. For example, if bleeding happens to be inside the abdominal cavity, it can expand into a very large size before it causes any symptoms. This can happen because the hematoma can spread in a relatively free space without pressing on any organs to cause pain or other symptoms.

On the other hand, a small hematoma under the nail can present with a lot of pain because the blood expands into a very tight space under the nail bed and causes inflammation and irritation of the nearby nail and skin, resulting in pain and swelling.

When should I seek medical care for a hematoma?

Medical attention may be sought for a hematoma if its symptoms are severe or its size continues to expand. For example, hematoma in the brain (subdural) or epidural hematoma generally require prompt medical and surgical attention, especially if they are associated with neurologic problems.

Doctors who typically care for patients with hematoma are emergency room physicians, urgent care physicians, surgeons, neurosurgeons, and internal medicine doctors.

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