How to Say It: gas-tro-in-TEHS-teh-nahl blee-ding
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is bleeding in the digestive tract. It can be deadly.
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The upper digestive tract is the:
The lower digestive tract is the:
GI bleeding has many causes.
Causes in the upper digestive tract:
Causes in the lower digestive tract:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Upper and lower digestive tract bleeding may cause:
Upper digestive tract bleeding may also cause:
Sometimes, bleeding can happen quickly and be severe. This may cause:
Bleeding may be light and happen for a long time. This may cause a person to be tired and have problems breathing.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history.
Tests that may be done are:
Treatment depends on what is causing the bleeding. Some choices are:
Medicines may need to be stopped or changed. Depending on the cause, one or more other medicines may be used to:
Endoscopy can also be used to stop bleeding by:
Angiography can also be used to control bleeding. Other tools are used to find the bleeding. Medicines or other materials are injected into the blood vessels to control it.
Surgery may be used when other methods fail. It may be needed to treat problems, such as uncontrolled bleeding.
To lower the risk of GI bleeding:
American College of Gastroenterology
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-lower-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults. Accessed October 23, 2020.
Acute nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/acute-nonvariceal-upper-gastrointestinal-bleeding. Accessed October 23, 2020.
Barkun AN, Almadi M, et al. Management of Nonvariceal Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Guideline Recommendations From the International Consensus Group. Ann Intern Med. 2019 Oct 22 early online, and previous version can be found in Ann Intern Med 2010 Jan 19;152(2):101.
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastrointestinal-bleeding. Accessed October 23, 2020.
Overview of gastrointestinal bleeding. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/gastrointestinal-bleeding/overview-of-gastrointestinal-bleeding. Accessed October 23, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 5/18/2021