What causes bleeding in the digestive tract?
Stomach acid causes inflammation that can lead to bleeding at the lower end of esophagus. Stomach acid is normally associated with symptoms of heartburn and is called esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus. The failure of stomach to close properly and allows the return of food and stomach juices into the esophagus leading to esophagitis. Cirrhosis of the liver is the common cause of esophageal varices. Esophageal bleeding is caused by a tear in the lining of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer can lead to bleeding.
The stomach is a usual site of bleeding. Infections with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), alcohol, aspirin, aspirin-containing medicines and various other medicines (NSAIDs) (particularly those used for arthritis) can cause stomach ulcers or inflammation (gastritis). The stomach is often the main portion of ulcer disease. Acute or chronic ulcers may enlarge and erode through a blood vessel, causing bleeding.
A common source of bleeding from the upper digestive tract is the ulcers in duodenum. Duodenal ulcers are mostly caused by infection with H. pylori bacteria or drugs such as aspirin or NSAIDs.
Large intestine and rectum are the frequent sites of bleeding. Hemorrhoids the common cause of visible blood in the digestive tract and blood appears to be bright red. They are enlarged veins in the anal area that can rupture and produce bright red blood, which either visible in the toilet or on toilet paper.
The Benign growths of the colon are the common and said to be the forerunners of cancer disease. The growths can result in either bright red blood or occult bleeding. Colonrectal cancer is the frequent of all the cancers in the United States and often cases occult bleeding, but may not be visible.
Inflammation of various causes is responsible for extensive bleeding from the colon. Different intestinal infections can lead to inflammation and sometime bloody diarrhea. Even ulcerative colitis can produce inflammation and blood surface bleeding. Crohn’s disease of the large intestine can produce bleeding.
Diverticular disease caused by diverticula’s outpouchings of the colon wall can result in massive bleeding. Finally, as one gets older, abnormalities may develop in the blood vessels of the large intestine, which may result in recurrent bleeding.
Patients taking blood-thinning medications (warfarin) may have bleeding from the GI tract, especially if they take drugs like aspirin.
What are the common causes of bleeding in the digestive tract?
The usual causes of bleeding in the digestive tract can be listed as follows:
- Inflammation (esophagitis)
- Enlarged veins (varices)
- Tear (Mallory-Weiss syndrome)
- Inflammation (gastritis)
- Duodenal ulcer
- Inflammation (irritable bowel disease)
Large intestine and rectum
- Inflammation (ulcerative colitis)
- Colorectal polyps
- Colorectal cancer
- Diverticular disease
How is bleeding in the digestive tract recognized?
The symptoms of bleeding in the digestive tract normally depend on the site and the severity of bleeding. If the blood is coming from the rectum or from the lower colon, bright red blood will mix with the stool. The stool might be mixed with dark blood if the bleeding is up in the colon or at the end of the small intestine. When there is bleeding in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum the stool might become black or tarry. Vomited material may be bright red or can have a coffee-grounds appearance.
If the bleeding occurrence is more, a person may feel weak, dizzy and may have a crampy abdominal pain or diarrhea. Shock may occur, with a rapid pulse, drop in blood pressure and difficulty in urination. If bleeding is more intense the person suffers from gradual onset of fatigue, shortness of breath and pallor from the anemia. Anemia is type of condition in which blood’s iron-rich substance – hemoglobin is lost.
How is bleeding in the digestive tract diagnosed?
The actual site of the bleeding must be discovered. Then the complete history and physical examination is a must to diagnose it. Symptoms such as change in bowel habits change in stool color and the pain or tenderness may show the doctor which area of the digestive is affected. The intake of iron or foods such as beets can give the stool the same appearance as bleeding from the digestive tract. The must take the sample of stool and test the stool before offering any diagnose. A blood count will indicate whether the person has anemic and also will give an idea of the extent of the bleeding and how chronic it may be.
It is the common diagnose procedure that allows direct view of the bleeding site. The endoscope can detect lesions and determine the presence or absence of bleeding. Doctors often choose the endoscope procedure to diagnose the patients with acute bleeding. It can also be used to treat the cause of the bleeding as well. Endoscope is a flexible instrument, which can be inserted through the mouth or rectum. It allows the doctor to visualize into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum and help collect the samples of tissue, which can be treatment to stop the bleeding.
There are some other procedures to diagnose and locate the main source of the bleeding. Barium x-rays, are less accurate than endoscopy procedure in locating bleeding. Barium x-rays may interfere with other diagnose procedure if used in combination.
Angiography is the other procedure that uses dye to highlight blood vessels. This procedure is most useful in circumstances when the patient is acutely bleeding such that dye leaks out of the blood vessel and identifies the site of bleeding.
How is bleeding in the digestive tract treated?
Endoscopy is the primary diagnostic and therapeutic procedure for most causes of digestive tract bleeding.
Active bleeding from the upper GI tract can often be controlled by injecting chemicals directly into a bleeding site with a needle introduced through the endoscope. A physician can also cauterize, or heat treat, a bleeding site and surrounding tissue with a heater probe or electrocoagulation device passed through the endoscope. Laser therapy is useful in certain specialized situations.
Medicines are often prescribed to prevent recurrence of bleeding; such as the H. pylori, esophagitis, ulcer, infections and irritable bowel disease. Medical treatment of ulcers including the elimination of H. pylori to ensure healing and maintenance therapy to prevent ulcer recurrence can also lessen the chance of recurrent bleeding.
Removal of polyps with an endoscope can control bleeding from colon polyps. Removal of hemorrhoids by banding or various heat or electrical devices is effective in patients who suffer hemorrhoidal bleeding on a recurrent basis. Endoscopic injection or cautery can be used to treat bleeding sites throughout the lower intestinal tract.
How do you recognize blood in the stool and vomit?
The following lists can help you recognize blood in the stool or vomit:
- Bright red blood coating the stool
- Dark blood mixed with the stool
- Black or tarry stool
- Bright red blood in vomit
What are the symptoms of acute bleeding?
The common symptoms of the acute bleeding involve the followings:
- Shortness of breath
- Crimpy abdominal pain
What are the symptoms of chronic bleeding?
Symptoms for chronic bleeding include:
- Shortness of breath