What Causes Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding in the Stomach?

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You should never ignore any indication that you have bleeding in your gastrointestinal system -- including the stomach -- no matter the cause. Symptoms of acute GI bleeding can signal a life-threatening situation and individuals should seek immediate medical attention. Also, those with symptoms of chronic GI bleeding should seek medical attention in order to find the source of their bleeding.

Causes of bleeding in the stomach can include:

  • Ulcers: Ulcers may enlarge and erode through a blood vessel, causing bleeding.
  • Gastritis
  • Cancer
  • Gastric varices
  • Dieulafoy lesions
  • Portal gastropathy


Symptoms of acute bleeding

Acute gastrointestinal bleeding is bleeding that is sudden and severe. Some bleeds, particularly those that occur in the upper GI tract, can be large and fatal. Therefore, it is very important to be evaluated by a physician for any GI bleeding, and if someone has any of the symptoms of an acute bleed, they should seek emergency treatment immediately.

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Reduced urine flow
  • Crampy abdominal pain
  • Cold, clammy hands and feet
  • Faintness
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Sleepiness
  • Bright red blood coating the stool
  • Dark blood mixed with the stool
  • Black or tarry stool
  • Bright red blood in vomit
  • Coffee-grounds appearance of vomit


Symptoms of Chronic Bleeding

Chronic gastrointestinal bleeding is bleeding that is usually slow, and can either continue for a long time or start and stop in a short period of time.

The symptoms of chronic GI bleeding depend on where in the digestive tract the bleeding is occurring. Chronic bleeding in the GI tract may not be easily detected as acute GI tract bleeding because the signs of it are less obvious. It is important that you seek medical attention whenever you either see signs of GI bleeding, or show the symptoms of a GI bleed.

Chronic gastrointestinal bleeding can cause anemia in the patient. It is therefore important to know the symptoms of anemia. Those symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, loss of energy
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath, especially when exercising
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Palpitations (feeling of the heart racing beating irregularly
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache


Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Bleeding

A doctor will usually began the diagnostic process by recording the patient's medical history, and doing a complete physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will ask about your bowel habits (going more or less often than usual), stool color (black or red) and consistency (looser or more firm). He will also ask if you are experiencing any pain or tenderness, and where it's located. The doctor will then follow with diagnostic tests if his exam didn't reveal a cause of the bleeding (such as hemorrhoids), or to determine if there is more than one cause for the bleeding.

Diagnostic tests include:


Related Information About Stomach Cancer:

Related Information About Peptic Ulcers:


"Bleeding in the Digestive Tract." NIH Publication No. 07–1133 November 2004. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).

"Ulcers and Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Protecting Your Health." American College of Gastroenterology.

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