What Is Hyperemia Caused By and Symptoms?

Medically Reviewed on 1/15/2021

What is hyperemia?

Hyperemia is the increase of blood to your organs. There are two types of hyperemia. The causes of hyperemia include exercise, digestion, fever, hot flashes, injury and infection, heart failure, and thrombosis.
Hyperemia is the increase of blood to your organs. There are two types of hyperemia. The causes of hyperemia include exercise, digestion, fever, hot flashes, injury and infection, heart failure, and thrombosis.

Hyperemia is the increase of blood to your organs. There are a number of different reasons why hyperemia occurs. Sometimes, it may be caused by disease, a sign of something serious happening in the body. Other times it might just be a basic physical response to activity in the body.

Signs of hyperemia

Most cases of hyperemia are benign, healthy responses to activity. The signs and symptoms of hyperemia generally include:

  • Redness
  • Warmth

However, there are different causes of hyperemia that may produce different kinds of symptoms.

Causes of hyperemia

There are two types of hyperemia: active hyperemia and passive hyperemia:

Active hyperemia

This is the increase of blood flow in response to an organ’s demand for more blood. This can be caused by the following:

Exercise

When you exercise, your heart and muscles need more blood and oxygen. Your body responds to the demand and blood rushes in to deliver the nutrients.

Digestion

As you eat food, the body must break it down and extract nutrients to use. Blood flows to the stomach and intestines to help with this process.

Fever

When the body temperature increases, extra blood flows to the skin to help the body release excess heat.

Hot Flashes and blushing

During perimenopause, hormones fluctuate as the body prepares to stop menstruating. These fluctuations in hormones can create hot flashes. A hot flash causes a rush of blood to the skin. Blushing has a similar effect as well.

Injury and infection

When an injury or infection occurs, the body sends blood to the area to repair the wound and fight off infection. The blood carries important immune cells that help the body self-repair. Severe trauma and infection can cause serious hyperemia and swelling.

Blockage

Blocking or restricting an artery or vein will cause an increase in blood flow to that area. Bed rest can cause blockages. Once this is addressed, the blood will flow back through.

Passive hyperemia

Passive hyperemia is an increase or build up of blood that can’t be pumped through the body. Usually, it occurs because of disease that causes poor function or a blockage in an artery or vein.

Heart failure

In the process of pumping blood through the body, oxygen-rich blood flows into one side of the heart and pumps out the other side to send the blood throughout the body.

If the heart can’t pump blood out through the body, it can build up and cause congestion in other organs like the liver, kidneys, and spleen, and lungs. This can lead to other serious health problems.

Blockage

Blocking or restricting an artery or vein can cause hyperemia. Bedrest that causes persistent pressure on veins may lead to hyperemia and bed sores.

Thrombosis

Thrombosis is a clot that forms in a vein or an artery. This clot blocks blood flow and causes a build up of blood in one area. Thrombosis can be caused by:

Diagnosing hyperemia

Your doctor will take your personal and medical history, along with noting your symptoms. They may also perform a physical exam and take your vital signs like your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and temperature.

Depending on the type of hyperemia, your doctor may or may not perform tests. Active hyperemia is often a natural response that occurs as the body responds to activity. This can usually be diagnosed through symptoms and may not need tests.

Passive hyperemia may accompany other symptoms like:

If these symptoms occur along with variations in your vital signs, your doctor may also order:

Your doctor will use these to check the health and structure of arteries, veins, and the heart.

Treatment for hyperemia

Active hyperemia is often a natural response that occurs as the body responds to activity or tries to repair itself. Hyperemia during exercise, or caused by hot flashes, blushing, and digestion, generally don’t need treatment unless there are other symptoms. This is generally a healthy response in the body.

You may need to treat fever, injury, infection, and inflammation with over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms. If the symptoms are or become serious, seek medical attention.

Treatment for passive hyperemia may involve lifestyle factors, medication, and medical devices, including:

The treatments will vary based on the cause of hyperemia. Adopting healthy lifestyle practices will benefit your overall health.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/15/2021
References
Advances in Physiology Education: "Local control of blood flow."

American Heart Association: "Common Tests for Heart Failure."

American Heart Association: "Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure."

American Heart Association: "Warning Signs of Heart Failure."

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: "Ischemic and Pressure-Induced Hyperemia: A Comparison."

Inflammatory Reaction: "Hyperemia, Stasis, and Increase in Vascular Permeability: New Methods for Their Quantitation."

John Hopkins Medicine: "Thrombosis."

Journal of Tissue Viability: "Hyperaemia."