Bleeding anywhere in your body isn’t a fun thing to think about. But gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding isn’t something you can ignore. It’s important to know why it’s happening so you can get helpful treatment and experience relief.
Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and the team at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, are pleased to diagnose and treat the causes of GI bleeding.
Read on to learn more about this condition, including factors that fuel it and ways we can help.
Signs of gastrointestinal bleeding
Gastrointestinal bleeding is usually a symptom of a disorder affecting your digestive tract. That tract runs from your mouth to your anus, and the bleeding can occur anywhere along that path.
The amount of blood — which often appears in your stool or vomit — can range from not noticeable to the naked eye to severe or even life-threatening.
Signs of GI bleeding may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Black, tar-like stools
- Bleeding with bowel movements
- Bloody or dark brown, crumbly vomit
- Breathing challenges
- Chest pain
While GI bleeding can occur gradually, sudden and severe cases could also put you in a state of shock, bringing a drop in blood pressure, infrequent urination, a racing pulse, and a loss of consciousness.
Causes of gastrointestinal bleeding
An array of factors and conditions can cause or worsen bleeding in your gastrointestinal system, including:
- Angiodysplasia, which involves abnormal or enlarged blood vessels
- Benign tumors or cancer, which can weaken your GI tract lining
- Colon polyps, or growths in your large intestine
- Constipation and straining during bowel movements
- Colitis, which may cause bleeding ulcers in your large intestine
- Diverticular disease, when small pouches in your colon wall push through weak areas
- Esophagitis, when the esophagus muscles weaken and risk damage from stomach acid
- Gastritis, or inflammation of your stomach
- Mallory-Weiss tears, or tears in your esophagus from severe coughing or vomiting
- Hemorrhoids and anal fissures, which involve pressure on your anal or rectal veins
- Overuse of medications such as ibuprofen, platelet inhibitors, and oral anticoagulants
In addition to a physical exam, Dr. Reddy typically checks for GI bleeding using endoscopy. The procedure, which involves a flexible instrument inserted in your mouth or rectum, can help her determine the cause as well.
Treatment for gastrointestinal bleeding
The treatment for GI bleeding varies depending on the cause and severity of your symptoms, as well as your overall health. In milder cases, caused by lifestyle-related constipation, Dr. Reddy may recommend gradually increasing your fiber intake and drinking more hydrating fluids.
Lifestyle changes may also help reduce bleeding from a hemorrhoid. For especially painful hemorrhoids, you may benefit from a minimally invasive procedure to reduce or shrink the swollen vein.
Chronic diseases such as colitis may involve a range of treatments, from antibiotics to anti-inflammatory medications. If your bleeding stems from a tumor, you may need a biopsy to determine whether it’s cancerous.
To learn more about gastrointestinal bleeding or to get the care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. or request your appointment online today.