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Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation


  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation is also called DIC. It is a condition that may cause serious problems with bleeding or blood flow. It happens when the blood clotting agents (platelets and certain proteins) in the blood become over-active. Platelets are blood cells that help stop bleeding by sticking together to form a clot. With DIC, the platelets and blood proteins coagulate (form clots) throughout your body. When they are used up fast in this way, you are at risk for getting very sick. You may have both uncontrolled bleeding and blockage of blood flow to vital organs in your body. DIC is always caused by another medical condition. DIC may lead to severe (very bad) bleeding and other life-threatening problems. Your health, quality of life, and ability to function may decrease without treatment.
  • Your caregiver will ask you about past health problems including infections, surgeries, or diseases you may have had. He may also ask about your family health history, and any medicines you had taken or are presently taking. He will also do a complete physical exam on you. Blood may be taken and sent to the lab for tests. Treatment is aimed at treating the disease or condition causing your DIC. This may include medicines for infection and surgery to treat the condition causing your DIC. You may need to receive blood (transfusion), or have platelets and other blood parts replaced.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Aspirin to stop blood clots: Aspirin helps thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than directed. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Blood thinners: Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin and a soft toothbrush on your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports, such as football.
    • Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when taking medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you are taking this medicine.
    • Take this medicine exactly as your primary healthcare provider tells you. Tell him right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine. Your primary healthcare provider uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you.
    • Talk to your primary healthcare provider about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as cooked peas and kiwifruit.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


  • Bleeding precautions: You may bleed more easily from the DIC or medicines you are taking for it. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose, or in your urine or BMs. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.
  • Exercise: Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise may help keep your muscles flexible and prevent damage to muscles and joints. Always check with your caregiver before starting any exercise program.
  • Rest: You may need to rest in bed and breathe through your mouth when you have a nosebleed. You may lean forward when sitting, or use 2 to 3 pillows behind your head when lying down. This will help you breathe easier.
  • Sports: Avoid playing contact sports, such as football and basketball, to prevent bleeding or bruising. Talk to your caregiver about what may be the best sports and activities for you.

Self-care during a bleeding episode:

  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area using a clean cloth. Place another cloth on top of the first cloth if it gets soaked with blood.
  • During nosebleeds, pinch the end of your nose. Breathe through your mouth and lean forward to keep blood from going down the back of your throat.
  • Women who have started their periods may need to use extra pads. Ask your caregivers about other treatments to help control heavy menstrual bleeding.


  • You cannot make it to the next meeting with your caregiver.
  • You feel very tired and weak.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or a severe (very bad) headache.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your disease, care, or medicine.


  • You have bleeding that does not stop, even after taking medicines.
  • You have many large bruises in your body, or swelling in your joints.
  • You have a seizure (convulsion).
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes