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Bruising and bleeding both occur because of damage to blood vessels. When a vein, artery, or capillary is torn or cut, blood flows out into the vessel's surroundings; if the escaped blood is contained within the tissues directly under the skin, we see a bruise. While all of us bruise from time to time, some people bruise particularly easily. A number of factors, besides being accident-prone, can make this occur.
One factor contributing to easy bruising is thinning skin, caused by aging or by medications such as corticosteroids. Easy bruising can also be due to fragile blood vessel walls. Finally, difficulties with blood clotting, including problems with platelets or clotting factors, can also increase bruising. For this reason, strong blood-thinning drugs such as heparin and warfarin (Coumadin) can lead to excessive bruising. Warning: if you’re taking these or other anticoagulant drugs and notice increased bruising, contact your doctor, as this situation could be dangerous.
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Anticoagulant: A substance that prevents or delays blood clots (coagulation).
Bruise: Injury producing a hematoma or diffuse extravasation of blood without breaking the skin.
Capillary: Any of the smallest blood vessels connecting arterioles with venules and forming networks throughout the body.
Chymotrypsin: An enzyme secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine to assist in protein breakdown.
Clotting Factors: Substances in the bloodstream, especially vitamin K, that are important in the process of blood clotting. Prolonged bleeding is produced when these substances are absent.
Enzymes: Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Leukemia: Cancer of the lymph glands and bone marrow resulting in overproduction of white blood cells (related to Hodgkin's disease).
Placebo: A pharmacologically inactive substance. Often used to compare clinical responses against the effects of pharmacologically active substances in experiments.
Protein: Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.
Proteolytic: Commonly: Proteolytic (protein-digesting) Enzymes. Enzymes that are able to break down certain proteins, yet do not attack the beneficial proteins that make up the normal cells of the body. These proteolytic enzymes are said to have great value in fighting cancer as well as many other diseases. If the body were always capable of producing adequate proteolytic enzymes, it is possible that cancer would not develop. In theory, cancer cells have a type of protein coating that is destroyed by these proteolytic enzymes. When this protein is destroyed, the body's white cells are able to attack the cancer cells and destroy them.
Topical: Most commonly 'topical application': Administration to the skin.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E: An essential fat-soluble vitamin. As an antioxidant, helps protect cell membranes, lipoproteins, fats and vitamin A from destructive oxidation. It helps protect red blood cells and is important for the proper function of nerves and muscles. For Vitamin E only, 1mg translates to 1 IU.