“GI” stands for “gastrointestinal.” “GI system” (or “GI tract”) is the medical term for all the organs in your body that process food. The GI system includes your:
A GI bleed is when any of those organs start to bleed. Often you do not know you’re bleeding, because it’s happening inside your body. But sometimes there are signs that it’s happening.
There are 2 common varieties of GI bleeds. “Upper GI bleeds” affect the esophagus, the stomach, and therefore the first part of the tiny intestine. “Lower GI bleeds” affect the colon. Bleeding may happen within the middle of the tiny intestine, but this can be much less common. This can be sometimes called “mid-GI bleeding.”
The symptoms are minimally different depending on whether you’ve got an upper or lower GI bleed. Some people don’t have any symptoms. The Gastroenterologist may find that you are having anaemia. (Anaemia is when an individual has too few red blood cells.)
The symptoms of an upper GI bleed can include:
See your Gastroenterologist straight away if you:
Yes. If your Gastroenterologist or nurse suspects you have a GI bleed, he or she will order 1 or more of these tests:
Depending on what proportion blood you have lost and what seems to be causing your bleeding, you may get 1 or more of these treatments:
Depending on where the bleed seems to be, you might even have an upper endoscopy, a colonoscopy, or both. This can help the Gastroenterologists find the spot or spots that are bleeding. Plus, Gastroenterologists can sometimes use the upper endoscopy or colonoscopy to seal off blood vessels and stop them from bleeding.
After the bleeding has stopped, your Gastroenterologist will probably want to follow up with you to be told why you started bleeding in the first place. If you have ulcers or another condition that could lead to bleeding, the Gastroenterologist or nurse will want to make sure those problems are treated.