Site Map

Gastrointestinal bleeding

Lower GI bleeding; GI bleeding; Upper GI bleeding; Hematochezia

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding refers to any bleeding that starts in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bleeding may come from any site along the GI tract, but is often divided into:

Images

Fecal occult blood test

Presentation

GI bleeding - series - Normal anatomy

I Would Like to Learn About:

Considerations

The amount of GI bleeding may be so small that it can only be detected on a lab test such as the fecal occult blood test. Other signs of GI bleeding include:

Massive bleeding from the GI tract can be dangerous. However, even very small amounts of bleeding that occur over a long period of time can lead to problems such as anemia or low blood counts.

Once a bleeding site is found, many therapies are available to stop the bleeding or treat the cause.

Causes

GI bleeding may be due to conditions that are not serious, including:

GI bleeding may also be a sign of more serious diseases and conditions. These may include cancers of the GI tract such as:

Other causes of GI bleeding may include:

Home Care

There are home stool tests for microscopic blood that may be recommended for people with anemia or for colon cancer screening.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider may discover GI bleeding during an exam at your office visit.

GI bleeding can be an emergency condition that requires immediate medical care. Treatment may involve:

Once your condition is stable, you will have a physical exam and a detailed exam of your abdomen. You will also be asked questions about your symptoms, including:

Tests that may be done include:

Related Information

Anemia
Hypovolemic shock
Shock

References

Kovacs TO, Jensen DM. Gastrointestinal hemorrhage. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 135.

Meguerdichian DA, Goralnick E. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 27.

Savides TJ, Jensen DM. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 20.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 12/27/2018  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.