(GI Bleeding; Bleeding, Gastrointestinal; Bleeding, GI)
Pronounced: gas-tro-in-TEHS-teh-nahl blee-ding
by Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, MA
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is bleeding in the digestive tract.
The digestive tract is divided into two sections. The upper digestive tract includes the:
The lower digestive tract includes the:
GI bleeding is a potentially serious symptom that requires care from your doctor.
GI bleeding is a symptom caused by several possible conditions.
Causes in the upper digestive tract may include:
Causes in the lower digestive tract may include:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance of GI bleeding include:
Upper digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
Lower digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
It may be difficult to notice small amounts of blood in the stool. Your doctor can do tests to detect this.
Sometimes, bleeding can occur suddenly and be severe. You may notice symptoms like:
Bleeding that is light and occurs over a long period of time may make you feel tired and short of breath.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Endoscopy can also be used to stop bleeding. With an endoscope, your doctor can stop the bleeding by:
Angiography, which is also used as a diagnostic tool, can control bleeding. The doctor can use angiography with other tools to locate the bleeding and inject medications or other materials into the blood vessels to control it.
If other treatment options fail, your doctor may recommend surgery.
To help reduce your chance of gastrointestinal bleeding, take these steps:
The American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated April 4, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.
Acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated April 4, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.
Barnert J, Messmann H. Management of lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2008;22(2):295-312.
Bleeding in the digestive tract. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bleeding/. Updated March 28, 2012. Accessed July 15, 2013.
Common cancer types. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/commoncancers. Updated January 25, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.
Laine L, Jensen DM. Managment of patients with ulcer bleeding. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012;107(3):345-360.
Laine L, Smith R, Min K, Chen C, Dubois RW. Systematic review: the lower gastrointestinal adverse effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;24(5):751-767.
Loke YK, Derry S. Risk of gastrointestinal haemorrhage with long-term use of aspirin: meta-analysis. BMJ 2000;321:1183.
Wilcox CM, Alexander LN, Cotsonis GA, Clark WS. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are associated with both upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Dig Dis Sci. 1997;42(5):990-997.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 07/15/2013