What is Gastrointestinal Bleeding?

What is Gastrointestinal Bleeding?

Gastrointestinal Bleeding (GI bleed) is actually not a disease but a symptom of a disorder in your digestive tract. The bleeding can often happen anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the rectum. When there is a significant loss of blood over a short time, it may cause blood in your stool. In most of the cases, the amount of blood can be too small which is detected only by testing a stool.

The experts of digestive disorders say that the bleeding in the GI tract can range from mild to severe and sometimes it can be life-threatening. The sophisticated imaging technology is used to locate and detect the source because GI bleed treatment depends on the source of bleeding.

What are the symptoms of Gastrointestinal Bleeding?

As explained by the gastrointestinal experts, GI bleed symptomsdepend on the location of the bleeding and can be either obvious (overt) or hidden (occult).  Here are a few symptoms that you can look out for if suspect that you might have GI bleeding.

Symptoms of GI bleeding associated with blood loss include:

  • ● Vomiting that looks like coffee grounds
  • ● Blood in the vomit
  • ● Black or tarry stools
  • ● Bright red blood mixed with stool
  • ● Paleness
  • ● Dizziness or faintness
  • ● Lightheadedness
  • ● Chest pain
  • ● Abdominal pain
  • ● Weakness

Acute bleeding symptoms

If your GI bleed starts suddenly and progresses rapidly or if you have acute bleeding, you may go into shock.

Symptoms of shock include:

  • ● Drop in blood pressure
  • ● No urination or urinating frequently in small amounts
  • ● Rapid pulse
  • ● Unconsciousness

People may experience occult bleeding which may be a symptom of inflammation or disease such as colon cancer.

What causes Gastrointestinal Bleeding?

There are many possible conditions that can cause GI bleeding. The causes of the gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding are categorized into the upper gastrointestinal bleeding and lower gastrointestinal bleeding, depending on the location in the GI tract.

Causes of Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding include

  • Peptic ulcers: Peptic ulcers are sores that develop on the lining of the stomach, either from bacteria or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. These peptic ulcers damage the upper portion of the small intestine, which leads to the formation of sores and causes GI bleeding.
  • Gastritis: Gastritis is one of the common causes of GI bleeding. It can cause due to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, infections, Crohn’s disease, serious illness, and severe injuries. If gastritis is left untreated, it can lead to ulcers on the lining of the stomach that cause bleeding in your GI tract.
  • Esophageal Varices: Esophageal Varices also can cause GI bleeding or Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage. This condition usually occurs in people with a chronic liver disease called cirrhosis
  • Tears: A tear in the lining of the tube that connects your throat to the stomach (esophagus) which is usually caused by prolonged vomiting or prolonged coughing, can lead to bleeding in the GI tract. This condition is known as Mallory-Weiss syndrome and most common in people who drink excess alcohol.
  • Esophagitis: The common cause of esophagitis is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which happens when your lower esophageal sphincter is weak. Gastric acid can damage the esophagus and cause sores and GI bleeding.

Causes of Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding include:

  • Diverticular disease: Diverticular disease can cause GI bleeding when small bulging pouches or sacs are developed in the digestive tract. If one or more of the pouches in the GI tract becomes inflamed, it is called diverticular disease.
  • Ulcerative colitis: Ulcerative colitis is a complication of inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation and sores in the colon and rectum, Crohn’s disease, inflammation of the lining and bleeding in the GI tract.
  • Benign tumors: Benign (Noncancerous) tumors and cancerous tumors in the esophagus, stomach, colon or rectum can weaken the lining of the GI tract and cause bleeding.
  • Colon Polyps: A small clumps of the cell (colon polyps) that form on the lining of your colon can cause GI bleeding. Most colon polyps are harmless, but some may be cancerous or can become cancerous if not removed.
  • Hemorrhoids and Anal Fissures: Piles or hemorrhoids can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Constipation and excessive straining during bowel movements cause hemorrhoids to swell up. These swollen veins develop pain, itching, and bleeding in your anus or lower rectum. Anal fissures or small tears in the lining of the anus occurs when hard stools stretch the sphincter muscles that result in rectal bleeding.

How GI bleeding is diagnosed?

Generally, GI bleeding is diagnosed through a digital rectal examination and by the following tests.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests will be done to check the patient’s platelet count, liver function and the rate at which the blood clots.
  • Upper Endoscopy: Endoscopy is a procedure to examine the digestive tract using a tube with a light and camera attached to it.
  • Colonoscopy: In a colonoscopy, a long tube with a camera attached to it is passed through the rectum to look inside your large intestine for possible causes like rectal bleeding.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows the gastrointestinal surgeon to look inside your sigmoid colon and check for ulcers and polyps by using a flexible with a light on it.
  • Imaging tests: Various other sophisticated imaging tests are used to find the actual location and source of GI bleeding.

What is the treatment for GI Bleeding?

Often, Gastrointestinal bleeding stops on it own and doesn’t require any treatment. If the bleeding doesn’t stop then the treatment depends on the location of bleeding. If you have upper gastrointestinal bleed, you might need to take IV drug known as proton pump inhibitor(PPI) to suppress the gastric acid production. If one experiences acute bleeding, then the treatment usually includes hospitalization because blood pressure gets dropped and heart rate increases that need to be stabilized. In the case of heavy GI bleeding, IV fluids and blood transfusions are needed and possibly surgery is required.

How GI bleed can be prevented?

You can prevent gastrointestinal bleeding(GI bleed) by:

  • ● Quitting smoking
  • ● Maintaining a well-balanced diet
  • ● Limiting your use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • ● Limiting the consumption of alcohol

Are you experiencing GI bleeding and wondering for the right treatment? Then you are at the right place. Treat all your gastrointestinal problems at SMILES Bangalore under the supervision of Dr. Prasad, the best gastroenterologist in Bangalore with an impeccable experience of 30 years in managing all gastrointestinal cases.