Vomiting Blood (Hematemesis): What Causes Blood in Vomit and How to Treat It

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HematemesisAnytime blood is involved, even a mild health situation can be heightened. This is especially true with vomiting blood. Known medically as hematemesis, blood in vomit can be the sign of a mild illness or internal damage or injury. To understand why this happens, and help determine where the blood may originate, we will look at possible accompanying symptoms and hematemesis treatment.

Hematemesis can be explained as the oral expulsion of blood alone or combined with stomach contents. It can present as bright red in color or as a brown or burgundy tone. The color and consistency of the blood is important as it may help determine the extent of an injury as well as the location of the source. Vomiting dark red blood may signal a gastrointestinal issue, while a brighter shade of red blood could be the sign of a problem in the stomach or esophagus. Let’s now look at hematemesis causes.

What Causes Hematemesis (Blood in Vomit)?

As vomiting blood causes can be linked to either serious health conditions or minor ailments, it is essential to identify the root source.

Mild conditions associated with vomiting blood may be irritation or injury to the esophagus due to severe vomiting or a persistent cough. Blood found in vomit may also have been swallowed after a nosebleed or an injury to the mouth. Hematemesis is commonly seen in young children after swallowing a foreign object as well.

Blood from vomiting can be caused by more severe conditions, such as ulcers and inflammation of the pancreas and stomach. It can even be the side effect of prescription and over-the-counter medications. These can include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The more acute cases of vomiting blood can be linked to gradual thinning of the stomach lining as well as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Certain cancers can also cause blood in vomit, such as cancers of the esophagus and pancreas.

Symptoms That May Co-Exist with Vomiting Blood

As if blood with vomit isn’t concerning enough, you may experience concurrent symptoms that indicate a serious illness or disorder. Hematemesis symptoms to be mindful of include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Stomach contents regurgitation

There are several accompanying blood vomit symptoms that may signal a life-threatening situation. One alarming case is vomiting blood after an injury or direct blow to the stomach. Other symptoms to note include:

  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Increased heartrate
  • Severe pain

Vomiting Blood Tests

To diagnose the exact location and cause of blood in vomit, your health care professional will assess any accompanying symptoms along with your medical history and any recent trauma to the body.

Imaging tests will give doctors better insight into the cause and any damage to tissue by the vomiting. These can include X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Further testing may be required in the form of blood tests, an upper endoscopy, or perhaps a biopsy.

Treating Bloody Vomit

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, a vomiting blood treatment plan needs to be put in place. Medical treatment may start with a blood transfusion, if a substantial amount of blood has been lost through vomiting. The donor blood is injected through an intravenous line.

Dehydration caused by the loss of fluids is another concern requiring treatment. In addition to administering fluids intravenously, medication may be necessary to stop the vomiting.

If bloody vomit causes are connected to internal injury, surgery will be performed to stop the bleeding and repair any perforation.

During treatment, alcohol as well as acidic foods and beverages should be avoided. A special diet will be designed in accordance with the cause of bleeding.

Vomiting Blood Is Always Cause for Concern

Vomiting blood is a concern regardless of the cause. Whether blood from a nosebleed has escaped into the stomach or an abdominal injury has caused internal bleeding, it needs to be investigated further. In addition to blood in vomit, you may experience accompanying symptoms ranging from mild to severe that also require treatment. Various testing should be performed to determine the appropriate treatments, such as blood transfusion or surgery.



Sources:
Krucik, G., “What Causes Vomiting Blood? 25 Possible Conditions”, Healthline; http://www.healthline.com/symptom/vomiting-blood, last accessed April 25, 2017.
“Vomiting Blood”, Health Grades; https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/digestive-health/vomiting-blood, last accessed April 25, 2017.
“Vomiting Blood,” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vomiting-blood/basics/definition/sym-20050732, last accessed April 25, 2017.
“Vomiting Blood,” Medline Plus; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003118.htm, last accessed April 25, 2017.
Brown, G., “Causes of Vomiting Blood and Bleeding From the Rectum,” Live Strong, January 6, 2016; http://www.livestrong.com/article/146332-causes-of-vomiting-blood-and-bleeding-from-the-rectum/, last accessed April 25, 2017.

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