Gastrointestinal Bleeding

(GI Bleeding; Bleeding, Gastrointestinal; Bleeding, GI)


Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is bleeding in the digestive tract.
The Digestive Tract
si55551180 97870 1 digestive tract
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The digestive tract is divided into 2 sections. The upper digestive tract includes the:
The lower digestive tract includes the:
GI bleeding is a potentially serious symptom that requires care from your doctor.


GI bleeding is a symptom caused by many possible conditions.
Causes in the upper digestive tract may include:
Causes in the lower digestive tract may include:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of GI bleeding include:


Upper digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
Lower digestive tract bleeding symptoms may include:
It may be difficult to notice small amounts of blood in the stool. Your doctor can do tests to detect this.
Sometimes, bleeding can occur suddenly and be severe. You may notice symptoms like:
Bleeding that is light and occurs over a long period of time may make you feel tired and short of breath.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:


Treatment will depend on the cause of the bleeding. Your doctor may switch your medications or stop certain ones if it is suspected as the cause of your GI bleeding. You may need to make some lifestyle changes.
Other treatments may include:


Your doctor may advise medications depending on your symptoms or the results of your tests. Examples include:
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H-2 blockers to reduce stomach acid production
  • Antibiotics to treat Helicobacter pylori or other infections
  • Vasoconstrictors to reduce bleeding
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Probiotics to introduce healthy bacteria into the GI tract
Some treatments are more effective with a combination of medications.


Endoscopy can also be used to stop bleeding. With an endoscope, your doctor can stop the bleeding by:
  • Injecting chemicals into the bleeding site
  • Using a heat probe, electric current, or laser to seal off the bleeding site
  • Using a band or clip to close off blood vessels


Angiography, which is also used as a diagnostic tool, can control bleeding. The doctor can use angiography with other tools to locate the bleeding and inject medications or other materials into the blood vessels to control it.


If other treatment options fail, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery may be necessary for some conditions, such as diverticulitis or uncontrolled bleeding.


To help reduce your chance of gastrointestinal bleeding:


American College of Gastroenterology

American Gastroenterological Association


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Health Canada


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