What Causes Gastrointestinal Bleeding?

Gastrointestinal bleeding, also known as GI bleeding, can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from minor issues to more serious medical conditions. It occurs when there is bleeding in the digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, and anus. Here are some common causes of gastrointestinal bleeding:

  1. Peptic ulcers: These are open sores that develop on the inner lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. They can be caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria, long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or excessive alcohol consumption.
  2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Chronic acid reflux can lead to inflammation and ulceration of the esophagus, potentially causing bleeding.
  3. Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus can be caused by factors like infections, certain medications, or excessive alcohol consumption, which may result in bleeding.
  4. Gastritis: Inflammation of the stomach lining can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding. This can be caused by H. pylori infection, excessive alcohol use, or the use of NSAIDs.
  5. Mallory-Weiss tears: These are tears in the mucous membrane at the junction of the esophagus and stomach, often caused by forceful or prolonged vomiting.
  6. Gastrointestinal malignancies: Cancers of the digestive tract, such as stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer, can cause bleeding as they grow and damage nearby blood vessels.
  7. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis: These conditions involve the formation of pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon. When these pouches become inflamed or rupture, they can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
  8. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause ulcers and inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract, leading to bleeding.
  9. Hemorrhoids: Swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus can cause bright red blood in the stool.
  10. Anal fissures: Small tears in the lining of the anus can result in bleeding during bowel movements.
  11. Blood vessel abnormalities: Abnormalities in blood vessels, such as angiodysplasia, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), or telangiectasia, can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.
  12. Medications: Some medications, such as anticoagulants (blood thinners), can increase the risk of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
  13. Alcohol and drug abuse: Excessive alcohol consumption and illicit drug use can irritate the gastrointestinal lining and contribute to bleeding.
  14. Trauma or injury: Physical trauma to the abdomen or the digestive tract can cause bleeding.

If you experience symptoms such as black or bloody stools, vomiting blood, abdominal pain, or persistent nausea, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly, as gastrointestinal bleeding can be a serious medical emergency. The underlying cause will need to be identified and treated accordingly. Treatment may involve lifestyle changes, medications, endoscopic procedures, or surgery, depending on the cause and severity of the bleeding.