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Bleeding in the Upper/Lower GI

  • What is Bleeding in the Upper/Lower GI?

    Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding describes any bleeding that occurs in the gastrointestinal tract. The Gastrointestinal tract extends from the mouth to the anus. Gastrointestinal bleeding is often a sign of a disorder in your digestive tract. The level of bleeding ranges from mild to massive and life-threatening.

    The cause of Gastrointestinal bleeding is often difficult to pinpoint, but the development of advanced imaging techniques allows the location of the bleeding to be determined.

    The bleeding can originate from any site in the Gastrointestinal tract, but it is divided into:

    • Upper Gastrointestinal bleeding that can occur between the mouth and the duodenum (first part of the small intestine)
    • Lower Gastrointestinal bleeding that can occur between the small intestine and the anus
  • Upper Gastrointestinal bleeding is mainly caused by:

    • Peptic ulcers (open sores in the lining of the upper Gastrointestinal) which can wear away the artery and cause rapid bleeding
    • Rupturing of enlarged veins in the oesophagus (caused by Liver Cirrhosis)
    • Tearing in the lining of the oesophagus (Mallory-Weiss Syndrome) caused by alcohol abuse and Gastroenteritis.

    Lower Gastrointestinal bleeding is caused by:

    • Benign (non-cancerous) tumours
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Haemorrhoids
    • Inflammation
    • Inflammation of the colon including Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease
    • Polyps (benign growth in the lining of the colon or rectum)
  • The symptoms of Gastrointestinal bleeding depend on the site of the bleeding and they include:

    • Dark stools
    • Feeling tired and short of breath
    • Finding blood in your stools
    • Having chest pain
    • Losing consciousness due to inadequate blood flow to the brain
    • Vomiting of blood
    • Vomiting that resembles coffee grounds
  • Treatment of Gastrointestinal bleeding includes:

    • Endoscopy, which is a procedure used to diagnose and treat Gastrointestinal by stopping the bleeding by clipping the bleeding vessels. The procedure uses special instruments with camera and laser attachment.
    • Treating the cause of the bleeding if it can be identified:
      1. Haemorrhoids can be treated with medication or, in severe cases, with surgery
      2. Infections can be treated with appropriate antibiotics
      3. Proton pump inhibitor therapy can be used to reduce gastric acid secretion and promote healing of bleeding lesions
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