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Causes of Bleeding in the Digestive Tract

Topic Overview

Causes of bleeding in the stomach and intestines (digestive tract) include:

  • Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can irritate the stomach lining and cause an ulcer.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Colon polyps or colorectal cancer, especially in older adults. It is important to identify and treat these as early as possible, because they may be life-threatening.
  • Frequently occurring hemorrhoids. People with hemorrhoids often do not seek treatment right away, resulting in chronic bleeding.
  • Esophagitis, which is irritation or inflammation of the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach).
  • Hookworm and other parasites. These parasites feed upon blood from the intestinal wall. Significant blood loss can result if they are left untreated.
  • Long-distance running (runner's anemia). People who regularly run long distances often have some type of bleeding in the digestive tract.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Means RT (2012). Red blood cell function and disorders of iron metabolism. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 15, chap. 21. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last Revised November 27, 2012

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