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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding is the bleeding that originates from any of the following organs: the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

The symptoms differ if the patient is bleeding from the upper part or the lower part of his digestive tract. In the former, symptoms may include vomiting blood or coffee ground material, black stools or fresh blood in stools when the bleeding is profuse. In the latter, patients would have fresh blood in the stools.

The causes of a gastrointestinal bleeding are ulcers, swollen veins in the esophagus also known as varices, abnormal blood vessels, tiny pouches in the lining of the gut known as diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids and cancer.

Investigations for the cause of the bleed include endoscopy, imaging tests, capsule endoscopy.

Treatment involves mainly resuscitation with transfusion of fluids or blood depending on the amount of blood that was lost in addition to medicines to reduce the acid and antibiotics if indicated. Later on, depending on the possible origin of the bleeding, the physician will proceed with an upper or lower endoscopy or both in order to try to control the bleeding. If endoscopy fails, treatment may be radiological or surgical.