Munson Health
 
Gastrointestinal Bleeding

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by Randall B

(GI Bleeding; Bleeding, Gastrointestinal; Bleeding, GI)

 

Causes

GI bleeding is a symptom caused by many possible conditions.
Causes in the upper digestive tract may include:
  • Peptic ulcer —a sore in the lining of the stomach or the upper portion of the small intestine
  • Esophageal varices —abnormally swollen veins within the lining of the esophagus
  • Mallory-Weiss tears—tears in the lining of the esophagus
  • Gastritis —inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the stomach
  • Esophagitis—inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the esophagus
  • Benign tumors—abnormal tissue growth that is not cancerous
  • Stomach arteriovenous malformations
  • Cancer—cancer in the esophagus , stomach , or small intestine
Causes in the lower digestive tract may include:
  • Angiodysplasia —abnormal growth of blood vessels in the intestine
  • Diverticulum—a pouch that forms on the wall of the large intestine
  • Diverticulitis —occurs when the pouch becomes inflamed
  • Colitis —inflammation of the colon (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease)
  • Hemorrhoids —enlarged veins in the anus or rectum
  • Fissures —tears in the anus
  • Polyps or colon cancer
 

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of GI bleeding include:
 

Symptoms

Upper digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
  • Blood in vomit
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Blood in the stool
Lower digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Blood in the stool
Sometimes, bleeding can occur suddenly and be severe. You may notice symptoms like:
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness or faintness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Paleness
Bleeding that is light and occurs over a long period of time may make you feel tired and short of breath.
 

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
 

RESOURCES

The American College of Gastroenterology
http://www.gi.org

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
http://www.cag-acg.org

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

 

References


Acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 21, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2014.


Acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 21, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2014.


Barnert J, Messmann H. Management of lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2008;22(2):295-312.


Bleeding in the digestive tract. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bleeding. Updated March 27, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2014.


Common cancer types. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/commoncancers. Updated March 21, 2014. Accessed June 20, 2014.


Laine L, Jensen DM. Managment of patients with ulcer bleeding. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012;107(3):345-360.


Laine L, Smith R, Min K, Chen C, Dubois RW. Systematic review: the lower gastrointestinal adverse effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;24(5):751-767.


Loke YK, Derry S. Risk of gastrointestinal haemorrhage with long-term use of aspirin: meta-analysis. BMJ. 2000;321:1183.


Wilcox CM, Alexander LN, Cotsonis GA, Clark WS. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with both upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Dig Dis Sci. 1997;42(5):990-997.

 

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