Recognize the Signs of GI Bleeding
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract begins with your mouth and ends with your anus. Bleeding anywhere along your GI tract is an indication of a problem. Knowing the signs of GI bleeding can alert you to the need for medical attention.
Sometimes, GI bleeding is obvious — you see the blood — and is referred to as overt bleeding. In other instances, you may not know the bleeding is happening, and medical professionals call that occult bleeding.
There are many possible causes of GI bleeding, and they range from relatively mild problems to life-threatening conditions. The providers at Family Medical Specialists can identify the cause of your GI bleeding and then suggest a treatment plan.
Symptoms of GI bleeding
The symptoms that you experience when you have bleeding in your GI tract depend on several factors, including where in your GI tract the bleeding is occuring, whether it’s overt or occult, and whether you’re experiencing acute or chronic bleeding.
With occult, chronic GI bleeding, you may experience:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Problems breathing
- Feeling faint or actually fainting
- Pain in your chest
- Pain or cramps in your abdomen
Overt bleeding, which is more obvious, may cause:
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stool
- Tarry-looking or black stool
- Vomiting blood, which may look like coffee grounds or may be bright red
Acute bleeding can cause shock. The symptoms of shock include:
- A sudden drop in your blood pressure
- A rapid pulse
- Losing consciousness
- Urinating very little or not at all
Possible causes of GI bleeding
There are myriad possible causes of GI bleeding, some of which are medical emergencies. Other causes are relatively minor — but could become more serious without proper care. A few of the potential reasons for GI bleeding are listed below.
Cancer of the esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, or rectum can cause GI bleeding. All parts of your gastrointestinal system are susceptible to various cancers, and they can cause bleeding.
Lactose is a type of sugar that occurs naturally in dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, your body can’t digest lactose. Primary lactose intolerance is the most common form of lactose intolerance. It’s a normal result of aging, because as you age your body produces less of the enzyme necessary to digest lactose.
There are different types of ulcers. Peptic (stomach) ulcers are the most common reason for GI bleeding.
The use of certain medications or an infection from certain bacteria can cause your gastric acid to damage the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine, resulting in a sore. That sore is a peptic ulcer.
Small tears in the lining of your esophagus are known as Mallory-Weiss tears. Severe vomiting can cause them, and they’re most common in people who drink alcohol excessively.
Hemorrhoids and anal fissures
Straining during bowel movements can cause hemorrhoids and anal fissures, which are small tears in the tissues of your anus. Both conditions can cause GI bleeding.
These are only a few of the issues that can lead to GI bleeding. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to seek medical attention if you think you may have GI bleeding. Even if it’s caused by a non-life-threatening condition, GI bleeding can be dangerous.
If you notice any sign of GI bleeding, contact Family Medical Specialists of Florida. Our experts will work with you to diagnose and treat your problem. You can call the office in Plant City, Florida, or click the “book online” button to schedule your visit.