Vomiting Blood: Types, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Vomiting Blood Vomiting blood or hematemesis is usually the expulsion of blood from the upper gastrointestinal tract. The upper gastrointestinal tract consists of the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. The various causes will be discussed further in the article. Although it is not easily confused with hemoptysis, or coughing up blood, these two are different things. Coughing up blood may come with sputum and comes from the respiratory tract.

Types of Vomiting Blood

The amount and color of the blood vomited is what differentiates the types of vomiting blood.

  • Large amount of bright red blood
    • Usually signifies a quick, large bleed
    • Dark blood
      • Coffee ground color
      • Slow bleeding
      • Blood has come in contact with acid from stomach resulting to its dark brown red color
      • May progress to heavy bleeding if not treated immediately
      • Streaks of red blood
        • Usually mixed with food
        • Sometimes associated with melena
          • Stool has become black or very dark in color
          • Together with vomiting signifies gastrointestinal hemorrhage

Causes of Vomiting Blood

Vomiting blood can be caused by many diseases and conditions. Bleeding from each region of the upper gastrointestinal tract may connote different causes.

  • Bleeding from esophagus
    • Esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Esophageal varices
    • Gastro-esophageal reflux: irritation of esophagus by stomach acid
    • Mallory-Weiss syndrome: tear in the lining of the esophagus or stomach
    • Bleeding from stomach
      • Gastritis or inflammation of stomach lining
      • Stomach (gastric) ulcer
      • Stomach cancer
      • Varices
      • Mallory-Weiss syndrome: tear in the lining of the esophagus or stomach
      • Bleeding from duodenum
        • Duodenitis or inflammation of duodenum lining
        • Duodenal ulcer
        • Other causes
          • Swallowed blood from nosebleed
          • Swallowing poisons
          • Blood diseases
          • Injury to any organ in the gastrointestinal tract

Diagnosis of Vomiting Blood

The doctor will ask many questions to ensure if vomiting of blood is actually occurring. Examination and other tests will be performed. To make sure that bleeding is from the upper gastrointestinal tract, several can be done:

  • Endoscopy (gastroscopy)
    • Insertion of thin, flexible telescope through the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
    • Blood tests
    • Rectal examination

Treatment for Vomiting Blood

                Vomiting blood is usually a medical emergency, as there it is usually an underlying serious cause. Emergency medical services must be contacted, especially if large amounts of blood are lost

  • In severe cases, intravenous (IV) fluids or blood transfusion may be required.
  • Treatment will depend on the cause.
    • Primary concern is to stop bleeding.
    • Sometimes, surgery is required.

Although no immediate treatment can be given to people vomiting blood, it is important to recognize symptoms for medical emergencies to give appropriate treatment and avoid further damage. First aid training educates the lay public that this is possible for everyone. Vomiting blood can prove to be severe if not treated immediately and thus recognizing its symptom can prevent aggravating diseases.

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