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Bleeding can occur in any part of the digestive tract and should always be investigated because there may be a serious underlying cause. In some cases, only small amounts of blood are lost over a long period of time and go unnoticed. In other cases, severe, sudden bleeding from the digestive tract may result in blood being vomited or passed out of the anus in the feces. You should seek medical help if you notice any bleeding.
Bleeding in the digestive tract is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Bleeding can occur as the result of a number of different conditions, some of which are life threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. The cause of bleeding may not be serious, but locating the source of bleeding is important.
The digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or colon, rectum, and anus. Bleeding can come from one or more of these areas, that is, from a small area such as an ulcer on the lining of the stomach or from a large surface such as an inflammation of the colon. Bleeding can sometimes occur without the person noticing it. This type of bleeding is called occult or hidden. Fortunately, simple tests can detect occult blood in the stool.
The causes of bleeding in the digestive tract include inflammation of or damage to the tractâ€™s lining and tumors.
Bleeding from the upper tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, may occur when stomach acid damages the lining of these organs. This is a common complication of the gastroesophageal reflux and peptic ulcers. Severe bleeding is sometimes due to enlargement of veins in the esophagus, which may be a complication of chronic liver diseases.
Most cases of bleeding from the lower digestive tract, which includes the colon, rectum, and anus, are due to minor disorders, such as hemorrhoids or a fissure caused by straining to defecate. However, bleeding may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Diverticulosis and other disorders of the colon can also lead to the presence of blood in the feces.
The symptoms vary according to the site and the severity of the bleeding. if the bleeding is mild, blood loss may go unnoticed, but it may eventually cause symptoms of anemia, such as pale skin and shortness of breath. Severe bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum may cause:
Â· vomit containing bright red blood or resembling coffee grounds.
Â· black, tarry stools.
If there is a heavy loss of blood from the lower part of the tract, there will probably be visible blood in the stools. When there is severe blood loss from any part of the tract, shock may develop. Shock causes symptoms that include fainting, sweating, and confusion and requires immediate hospital treatment.
What might be done?
Minor bleeding may be detected only during an investigation for anemia or screening to detect colorectal cancer. If the bleeding is severe, you may need intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion to replace loss blood. You will be examined to detect the location of the bleeding, usually by endoscopy through the mouth.
Treatment for bleeding depends on the underlying cause. For example, peptic ulcers are treated with antibiotics and ulcer-healing drugs, but colorectal cancer needs surgery. It may be possible to stop bleeding by a treatment done during endoscopy, such as laser surgery, making open surgery unnecessary. Treatment is usually successful if the cause is identified and treated early.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies