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Gastrointestinal Bleeding Related Questions

Have you or a loved one experienced gastrointestinal bleeding and need to know why? When patients are affected by medical conditions, they are unaware of the causes and risk factors. Often Expert insight is needed to help clarify doubts and concerns. Read below for questions that have been answered by Experts about gastrointestinal bleeding.

What is gastrointestinal bleeding?

This is a disorder in the digestive tract where blood can appear in vomit or stool; not be visible to the human eye. Bleeding can vary from mild to severe and often can be life threatening. Finding the cause may be difficult; however, most imaging technology can help locate the source of the bleeding and invasive procedures can be used to stop the bleeding.

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding from colon cancer?

Typically, once bleeding from colon cancer starts it does not stop. Normally it reoccurs if there is cancer present in the colon because the cancer will continue to bleed until it has been treated. However, some of the bleeding from colon cancer may be microscopic and a stool occult blood test will be needed to determine if it is occurring. There are two types of bleeding that occur with colon cancer, ongoing chronic small amounts of blood loss, which could occur without being noticed for years. Later in the disease larger amounts of bleeding can occur.     

What test could be used to determine what could cause black granulated stools?

Stools that are black and granulated are typically caused by a gastrointestinal bleed. A doctor will request a stool test to sample to check the stool for trace amounts of blood. Also blood work will help to determine the amount of blood lost and the length of time that the blood loss has been occurring. Emergency medical care is needed if shortness of breath, weakness, chest pain or red bleeding in the stools or vomiting occurs.

What causes black and tarry stool?

When bleeding occurs above the duodenojejunal junction it will appear as black and tarry. This condition can be referred to as Melena. A peptic ulcer which is an ulcer in the stomach or duodenum is the most common cause. Other causes can include:

  • gastritis which is inflammation of the stomach lining
  • esophagitis
  • Mallory-Weiss tear which is a tear at the gastro esophageal junction because of sudden vomiting
  • malignancy

Non-serious and uncommon causes can include:

  • swallowing nose bleeds
  • consumption of black pudding and other colored foods
  • pepto bismol
  • iron supplements
  • lead

There are other symptoms associated to all the causes. The symptoms of esophageal conditions may include difficulty swallowing and vomiting blood. Malignancies can also be accompanied with weight loss, loss of appetite and pain. The symptoms of an ulcer can be dependent on the site that is affected. The other symptoms can include hunger like pains and pain.

What are gastrointestinal bleeding risk factors?

  • H. pylori - bacteria that can cause ulcers.
  • The use of anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, Naproxsyn and aspirin.
  • A history of ulcers.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Kidney disease.

What tests determine the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding?

  • stool culture
  • stool for occult blood test
  • serum electrolytes
  • INR levels
  • full blood count

An early evaluation at an emergency room may be needed if the bleeding is very severe.

What do the different colors of bloody stools indicate?

Bleeding in the proximal bowel and distal colon is indicated by red and black. The darker color shows that the blood has been partially broken down by the enzymes in the bowel. The red color is fresh blood that is from the distal portion of the colon. Regardless of the color, it is an indication that there is an irritation in the mucosa of the bowel.    

Gastrointestinal bleeding can be a scary for anyone especially when blood appears either in vomit or bowel movements, questions and concerns may arise. If you are a loved one have questions or concerns regarding gastrointestinal bleeding for answers other questions, an individual should contact an Expert.

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