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 several 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
- 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
- Hemorrhoids—enlarged veins in the anus or rectum
- Fissures—tears in the anus
- Polyps or colon cancer
Last reviewedJuly 2013by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, 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.