Bleeding in the digestive tract is a symptom of a disease rather than a disease itself. Bleeding can occur as the result of a number of different conditions, some of which are life threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. The cause of bleeding may not be serious, but locating the source of bleeding is important.
The digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine or colon, rectum, and anus. Bleeding can come from one or more of these areas, that is, from a small area such as an ulcer on the lining of the stomach or from a large surface such as an inflammation of the colon. Bleeding can sometimes occur without the person noticing it. This type of bleeding is called occult or hidden. Fortunately, simple tests can detect occult blood in the stool.
What are the common causes of bleeding in the digestive tract?
- inflammation (esophagitis)
- enlarged veins (varices)
- tear (Mallory-Weiss syndrome)
- liver disease
- inflammation (gastritis)
- duodenal ulcer
- inflammation (irritable bowel disease)
Large intestine and rectum
- inflammation (ulcerative colitis)
- colorectal polyps
- colorectal cancer
- diverticular disease
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