What is gastrointestinal bleeding?
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding refers to any loss of blood from your gastrointestinal tract. Blood loss may be overt (visible) or occult (undetectable to the naked eye). If visible, bleeding may manifest in several ways. Very commonly, patients may see blood on the toilet paper after wiping or small drops of blood in the toilet bowl. This type of bleeding is usually associated with bright red blood (fresh blood). Bleeding may also be of larger volume and maroon (dark red) or black in color. It may contain blood clots as well. The volume, color, and associated symptoms (abdominal pain, etc) offer clues regarding the cause of bleeding and are important details to relay to your physician.
What are the causes of GI bleeding?
When should I seek medical attention for my gastrointestinal bleeding?
Any gastrointestinal bleeding, whether overt or occult, should be evaluated by a medical professional as it may represent a serious underlying condition. Bleeding that is small volume, bright red, or intermittent should be assessed but does not represent an emergency. Bleeding that is larger volume, frequent, black or maroon, or associated with other symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea, etc.) requires urgent evaluation.
It is very important to tell your doctor about any GI bleeding you may be experiencing as soon as possible. Do not attempt to diagnose yourself. Pending evaluation, your doctor may suggest an imaging study (CT), endoscopy or colonoscopy.
Contact us if you would like to make an appointment with one of our physicians at Richmond Gastroenterology.