GI Bleeding

Also known as: gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach bleeding, upper or lower gastrointestinal bleeding

What is GI bleeding?

Any internal bleeding that originates anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract is known as GI bleeding. Blood can come from the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, colon, rectum or anus. It occurs fairly frequently and while usually slight it can cause severe symptoms and complications.

What causes GI bleeding?

In general one usually divides causes as those that occur in the neonate (the first month of life) - infants between 1 month to 1 year-  children aged 1-2 years and children older than 2 years. There are a large number of  causes of GI bleeding in each group and your pediatrician and/or gastroenterologist will take a careful and extensive history, do an examination which will include examining the baby's anus and probably the rectum  (by inserting a finger in the anus) as well as perhaps inserting a tube through the nose to the stomach to see whether bleeding is coming from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract or not. If bleeding is thought to come from the lower GI a colonoscopy may be performed. Other studies may be needed to find the cause of the bleeding.

What are the symptoms/signs of GI bleeding?

Mild bleeding may cause no symptoms. Blood appearing in vomit or stools in the form of bright red blood or black, tarry vomit or stools maybe the only signs found. If a large amount of blood has been lost (over a short or long period) children may present with paleness, fast heartbeat, sweating, weakness and a low blood pressure.

What are GI bleeding care options?

Depending on the underlying diagnosis, whether it's the first bleed or not, its position, it's severity and any complication present, treatments may include a variety of medications and or surgery.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: March 20, 2019 04:06 PM