I Bruise Easy
April 21, 2005 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Why do I get so many bruises?

I am 22 years old, in very fit shape and I'm growing a lot of muscle quickly. I have recently noticed that I have, at any given time, 8-10 bruises on my body. Generally, they're from knocks, but I'm no more accident or physical activity prone than I used to be.

What might cause this shift in the ability to bruise? Is there anything I can do to prevent it other than improving my motor skills?
posted by dflemingdotorg to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
You know, I'd really check on that one with a doctor. I have heard that inexplicable bruising can be a symptom of leukemia.
posted by orange swan at 12:35 PM on April 21, 2005

It can also be a sign of anemia. Get more iron in your diet, perhaps?
posted by me3dia at 12:36 PM on April 21, 2005

Get it checked out--it might very well be benign--normal capillary fragility--it is also symptomatic of a number of blood diseases--most of which are quite manageable--however--you should not fool around with this. Good Luck Frank
posted by rmhsinc at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2005

Based on my own personal experience, I find that when I fall out of the habit of taking a daily multivitamin, I bruise more easily. When I get back in the daily multi habit, I bruise less easily. I have no idea whether it's the iron or the vitamin C or what. IANAD, and you should probably go see yours just to be safe.
posted by ambrosia at 1:01 PM on April 21, 2005

Anemia seems a likely culprit, moreso if you've been dieting. Cutting down on red meat is a good way to slice out a major source of iron.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:13 PM on April 21, 2005

How much do you drink? I thought that I bruised easily when I was in my early twenties, too.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:28 PM on April 21, 2005

Get it checked. One possibility is ITP, where your immune system develops antibodies against platelets (which are responsible for clotting). Go to a hematologist, and he can rule a lot of things out with a simple blood sample.

I've had ITP since I was 5 and I'm in my thirties now, so it's quite manageable. But get it looked at, if only for your own peace of mind.
posted by bitmage at 1:28 PM on April 21, 2005

I've noticed additional bruising when my use of anti-inflammatory goes up. Particularly Naproxen.
posted by Carbolic at 1:56 PM on April 21, 2005

Low potassium will do it, as well. Supplements can be tricky, but you can get lots of potassium from bananas, potatoes, and other tasty things.

Not that you shouldn't see a doctor, but you can still add some of those things to your diet right now.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:14 PM on April 21, 2005

I remember hearing that bruising easily can be due to a vitamin C deficiency.
posted by sic at 2:16 PM on April 21, 2005

Looks like Vitamin K is also good for bruises.
posted by Specklet at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2005

(As always: IAAD, but don't take anything I say here as advice about your own problem. I agree with orange swan, and would recommend a conversation with your own doctor.)

To clear up a misconception that's been stated a few times in this thread: bruising does not have anything to do with anemia. Anemia is a specific state of low red blood cell numbers, but has nothing to do with the hemostatic system (the system that prevents bruising and bleeding). It's possible to have anemia and bruising at the same time, but the only way that the two are related is if one's ability to make any type of blood cell is hindered (e.g., leukemia, some vitamin deficiencies like extreme B12 or folate deficiency, something else replacing the bone marrow like granulomas, or a bunch of other things).

Low platelets, which can cause bruising (see bitmage's comment above) is called thrombocytopenia; low clotting factors, which can cause bruising as well, is called hemophilia.

There are a host of other causes for easy bruising; as a few people mentioned, vitamin C deficiency can do it (vitamin C stabilizes the smallest of the blood vessels against damage, but the deficiency has to be extreme to matter), as can a host of problems with platelets (e.g., Carbolic's mention of using anti-inflammatories that shut down the normal activity of platelets) or problems with the interaction between platelets and damaged blood vessel walls. By far the most common of these is von Willebrand disease, which affects nearly 1% of the population of the planet at some level and is reasonably harmless.

If someone has had easy bruisability their entire life (and is more than a few months old!), then it's unlikely to be leukemia or another bone-marrow-suppressing condition. On the other hand, if it's a newer phenomenon in someone's life, then there should definitely be a conversation between that person and their doctor.
posted by delfuego at 4:06 PM on April 21, 2005

I'm with Mayor Curley; I've also noticed that I have less bruises when I leave the lights on at night.

Also, do you simply have more bruises or do you notice that you bruise more easily (you said you're putting on more muscle mass - test them out, see if you can give yourself a bruise by squeezing, say, your arm)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:08 PM on April 21, 2005

If I don't eat healthy I bruise much more easily. I'd start with some vitamins and a simple anemia test before getting too worried. But I know how uncomfortable (physically and mentally) it is to be covered in bruises, believe me- I've gotten some weird looks before!
posted by elisabeth r at 4:41 PM on April 21, 2005

>I remember hearing that bruising easily can be due to a vitamin C deficiency.
I've heard this, too. I knew someone who never ate fruit or drank juice. She always had little bruises from knocking into things.
posted by philfromhavelock at 4:49 PM on April 21, 2005

Search your roomate's room for a bottle of ether.
posted by mullingitover at 6:23 PM on April 21, 2005

I'll also chime in and mention that my personal experiment with gingko biloba resulted in many unexplained bruises. Turns out my blood is quite thin enough already.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:48 PM on April 21, 2005

is it that you're paying more attention to your body lately, so just noticing them more?

(another easy bruiser here, but forever, and generally klutzy)
posted by amberglow at 7:16 PM on April 21, 2005

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