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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Blood in vomit or stool can be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding (GI bleeding.) GI bleeding can be scary, but the cause of the bleeding is usually not serious. Still, you should always see a doctor if GI bleeding occurs.

Causes of Gastrointestinal bleeding

gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding or GI bleeding can be caused by many different problems. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Ulcer (sore on the lining of the GI tract)
  • Cuts or scrapes in the mouth or throat
  • Infection (bacteria or parasites)
  • Food allergies
  • Medications
  • Inflammation (swelling or irritation of the lining of the GI tract)
  • Polyps (growths of tissue)
  • Abnormal pouches in part of the GI tract
  • Tears in the anus
  • Nosebleed

 

Call Your Doctor Immediately if You Have Any of the Following:

  • Bleeding from the mouth or anus that can’t be stopped
  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Bleeding accompanied by lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Signs of dehydration—dry, sticky mouth; decreased urine output; very dark urine

 

Diagnosing the Cause of Blood in Stool

If blood is coming out in your stool, it may signal a lower GI tract problem. Bleeding from the lower GI tract can be bright red, or it may look dark and tarry. Occult blood can’t be seen with the eye, but can be found in the stool on tests.

To determine the cause, tests that may be ordered include:

  • Blood tests
  • Hemoccult test: checks a stool sample for blood
  • Stool culture: checks a stool sample for bacteria or parasites
  • X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan to capture images the digestive tract
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for viewing the colon and taking biopsy samples if needed.

 

Diagnosing the Cause of Blood in Vomit

Vomiting blood may signal an upper GI tract problem.

To determine the cause, tests that may be ordered include:

  • Endoscopy to view the upper GI tract and take a biopsy if needed.
  • X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to capture images of the digestive tract.
  • Upper GI series to capture X-rays of the upper part of the GI tract from inside the body.

Suburban Gastroenterology