Gastrointestinal bleeding or GI bleeding is a disorder located in the digestive tract. The bleeding happens through vomit or stool but may not be visible. The only tell-tale sign to know for sure is the color of the stool which may be darkened or black. It is important to know the gastrointestinal bleeding causes to avoid any life-threatening situations. The GI tract includes many organs, including the small intestine, large intestine, stomach, rectum, and anus. In certain cases the source of the bleeding can only be found through lab tests and advanced imaging technology.
The amount of bleeding depends on the cause of the bleeding and from person to person. In some cases, if the GI bleeding is left without treatment, it can become life-threatening. Therefore, timing of endoscopy for gastrointestinal bleeding is a very important issue.
What are the symptoms of Gastrointestinal bleeding?
The symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding can vary depending on where the bleeding is happening and the amount of blood:
If the bleeding is happening in the upper digestive tract, symptoms can include:
- Red blood or coffee-ground like blood when vomiting
- Tarry or black stool
- Blood in stool
If the bleeding is happening in the lower digestive tract, symptoms can include:
- Tarry or black stool
- Bright red/dark red blood in stool
Some cases of gastrointestinal bleeding can also be overt or occult. The symptoms can show up as bright or dark red blood in vomit and rectal bleeding when it comes to overt bleeding.
The body can also go into shock if the GI bleeding starts abruptly and rapidly worsens in a short period. In such cases, the symptoms are as follows:
- A quick pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Becoming unconscious
- Not being able to pee
When it comes to occult bleeding, some of the symptoms can be as follows:
- Pain in the chest
- Fainting spells
- Feeling lightheaded
- Abdominal pain
What are the causes of Gastrointestinal Bleeding?
If the GI bleeding is happening in the Upper digestive tract, the causes may be:
- Esophagitis: It is inflammation of the esophagus caused by GERD.
- Peptic ulcer: It is the most common reason for GI bleeding. It forms on the lining of the stomach and the small intestine. These ulcers form due to the use of mediation and stomach acid.
- Esophageal varices: It happens when the veins in the esophagus increase in size and become abnormal. It is most apparent in people with liver problems.
- Mallory-Weiss tears: These are tears that occur in the esophagus, which causes bleeding when vomiting. It is prevalent among people who drink alcohol
If the GI bleeding is happening in the lower digestive tract, the causes may be:
- Proctitis: When the lining of the rectum gets inflamed.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: It causes sores in the rectum and colon, which are inflamed, sometimes even causing Crohn’s disease.
- Diverticular disease: Formation of small pouches in the GI tract, which is prone to get infected.
- Hemorrhoids: It happens when the veins in the anus and rectum get swollen.
- Colon polyps: These are small cell clumps that develop on the colon lining, which may even become cancerous if not treated on time.
- Noncancerous or cancerous Tumors: If there are tumors along any part of the digestive tract, it can cause bleeding due to a weakened system.
- Anal fissures: Tears in the lining of the anus.