Gastrointestinal bleeding - Treatment
Lower GI bleeding; GI bleeding; Upper GI bleeding
There are home stool tests for microscopic blood that may be recommended for people with anemia or for colon cancer screening.
Call your health care provider if:
Call for an appointment with your doctor if:
- You have black, tarry stools (this may be a sign of GI bleeding)
- You have blood in your stool
- You vomit blood or you vomit material that looks like coffee grounds
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
GI bleeding is diagnosed by a doctor -- you may or may not be aware of its presence.
GI bleeding can be an emergency condition requiring immediate medical attention. Treatment may involve:
- Blood transfusions
- Fluids and medicines through a vein
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) - a thin tube with a camera on the end is passed through your mouth into your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
- A tube is placed through your mouth into the stomach to drain the stomach contents (gastric lavage)
Once your condition is stable, you will have a physical examination, including a detailed abdominal examination.
You will also be asked questions about your symptoms, including:
- When did you first notice symptoms?
- Did you have black, tarry stools or red blood in the stools?
- Have you vomited blood?
- Did you vomit material that looks like coffee grounds?
- Do you have a history of peptic or duodenal ulcers?
- Have you ever had symptoms like this before?
- What other symptoms do you have?
Tests that may be done to find the source of the bleeding include:
- Reviewed last on: 1/31/2011
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Bjorkman D. GI hemorrhage and occult GI bleeding. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 137.
Savides TJ, Jensen DM. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 19.
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