What causes gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicologist

A variety of conditions may cause GI bleeding. GI bleeding may occur in the esophagus, stomach, intestines or rectum. Common sources of bleeding in the esophagus/stomach (upper GI tract) include varicose veins of the esophagus (varices) and ulcers. Common sources of bleeding in the intestines include diverticular disease, ulcers, vascular malformations (abnormal blood vessels). Common sources of bleeding from the rectum include hemorrhoids and fissures. Tumors and polyps can occur anywhere in the GI tract may also cause bleeding.

GI bleeding is caused by a variety of underlying conditions that vary depending on where the bleeding is coming from. Some of these underlying conditions in the upper GI tract are ulcers, liver disease, gastritis, and varices. In the lower GI tract causes of bleeding include inflammatory bowel disease, arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connections between arteries and veins), a tumor, colon cancer, ulcers, polyps, colitis, diverticula, and hemorrhoids.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.