Blood in Vomit - What to Do

Blood in Vomit - What to Do


Blood in vomit is often seen as a symptom of a severe underlying condition. The blood may vary in color and be dark or bright red. Some patients only vomit blood while, in other cases, the blood comes up mixed with food or stomach acid. Because it can be a sign of a significant health problem, blood in vomit should not be ignored.

Locating the Source of the Problem

When a patient is vomiting blood, it may be coming from any part of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Possible sources of bleeding include the mouth, esophagus, throat, stomach, and the first section of the small intestine. The cause of bleeding determines the severity of vomit in the blood. In some cases, mild bleeding may occur in the throat or esophagus as the result of chronic coughing; This may also happen as the result of forceful vomiting. Blood that is swallowed from a nosebleed or oral injury can also cause blood in vomit.

Seek Medical Attention

In more severe cases, bleeding can occur as the result of underlying severe conditions including severe liver damage that causes swollen veins in the stomach and esophagus, bleeding ulcers, tumors in the stomach or esophagus, or defects of the blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract. Because there is a risk of serious problems when one is vomiting blood, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention.

Medical Testing and Diagnosis

Finding the source of bleeding is a top concern when a patient is experiencing blood in vomit. Medical professionals usually begin treatment by performing a thorough physical examination and asking questions regarding the patient's bleeding and any other symptoms he or she may be experiencing. In many cases, additional testing is needed to locate the source of bleeding. Standard tests include x-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, and endoscopic procedures.

Treatment Options

The treatment for blood in vomit varies. When it is caused by small tears in the esophagus or other minor problems, further treatment usually is not needed. In emergency situations where a patient has a lost a significant amount of blood, IV fluid replacements or blood transfusions may be required. Patients may also require surgery to stop the bleeding. Medications may be needed to treat some problems.

Don’t Leave it Untreated

When left untreated, some causes of blood in the vomit can be fatal. As a result, it is important to seek prompt medical attention for anyone who is vomiting blood. With treatment, many problems can be corrected, but patients may still require ongoing treatment.

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