Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is a symptom of moderate to severe diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Blood can be found either in the stool or in vomit, however sometimes it is not visible to the naked eye. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to have special tests done to identify the cause and location of the bleeding. If you suspect that you are experiencing GI bleeding, call your doctor right away. GI bleeding can become life-threatening if it is not aptly treated.
Bleeding that occurs in the digestive tract is sometimes obvious, though this is not always the case. Occult bleeding refers to internal bleeding that is not immediately apparent. If you have overt (meaning obvious) bleeding, you may experience a variety of symptoms depending on the location of the bleeding:
These symptoms should be treated as an indication of a more serious case of bleeding, for which you should seek immediate medical care. If you are suffering from internal GI tract bleeding, however do not notice the above symptoms, you are experiencing occult bleeding. Symptoms of this include:
Occult bleeding usually is not as serious as overt bleeding, and can be handled by your physician in a timely manner.
Sudden, severe internal bleeding may cause you to go into shock. Call 911 immediately if you have sudden onset of symptoms such as:
Bleeding of the digestive tract has many possible causes, as it can occur anywhere from your esophagus to your rectum. Bleeding of the upper digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine) can be caused by:
Bleeding of the lower GI tract, which includes the lower part of the small intestine, as well as the colon, rectum, and anus, is usually caused by the following conditions:
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms to determine the most likely cause of your bleeding. Depending on your diagnosis, they may recommend solutions like medications, bland food diets, and in more severe cases, surgery.