Pronounced: gas-tro-in-TEHS-teh-nahl blee-dingEn Español (Spanish Version)
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is bleeding in the digestive tract.
The Digestive Tract
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The digestive tract is divided into two sections. The upper digestive tract includes the:
- Esophagus—the muscular tube that transports food from the throat to the stomach
- Upper portion of the small intestine
The lower digestive tract includes the:
- Lower portion of the small intestine
- Large intestine
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:
- Peptic ulcer—a sore in the lining of the stomach or the upper portion of the small intestine
- Esophageal varices—abnormally swollen veins within the lining of the esophagus
- Mallory-Weiss tears—tears in the lining of the esophagus
- Gastritis—inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the stomach
- Esophagitis—inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the esophagus
- Benign tumors—abnormal tissue growth that is not cancerous
- Stomach arteriovenous malformations
- Cancer—cancer in the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine
Causes in the lower digestive tract may include:
- Angiodysplasia—abnormal growth of blood vessels in the intestine
- Diverticulum—a pouch that forms on the wall of the large intestine
- Diverticulitis—occurs when the pouch becomes inflamed
- Colitis—inflammation of the colon (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease)
- Hemorrhoids—enlarged veins in the anus or rectum
- Fissures—tears in the anus
- Polyps or colon cancer
Last reviewedJune 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.