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Blood in vomiting

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Blood in vomiting can either occur as small flakes that come out along with dry cough or only blood that regurgitates from inside your body. It’s indeed scary to experience so much blood oozing out from your mouth and certainly it calls for medical diagnosis. The medical term for vomiting blood is hematemesis.

Symptoms associated with blood vomiting

Blood in vomit is itself a symptom. The consistency, colour and quantity of blood vomited depend on the severity of the underlying cause. It may come up mixed along with food and cough while other times it might appear as bright red or dark red in colour. Some symptoms you might experience are:

  • Nausea, dizziness, fainting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness in breath
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Pale and cold skin

Causes behind blood in vomiting

Inflammation or defect in the upper gastrointestinal tract (consists of mouth, throat and esophagus and upper part of small intestine) can lead to throwing up of blood. The conditions involve

  • Tear in esophagus due to severe coughing
  • Irritation and infection in esophagus – esophagitis
  • Gastritis
  • Infection in small intestine
  • Peptic ulcers

Blood in vomiting can also be caused by side effects of NSAIDs and aspirin or accidental swallowing of blood (from nosebleed) and foreign particles.

Apart from those, some other medical conditions that lead to vomiting in blood could be

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Breakage of stomach tissues
  • Oesophageal varices
  • Portal hypertension

When to see a doctor?

If you had a chronic cough and puked up some small flakes of blood while coughing, then you may not need to call your doctor immediately. Try to cope with the coughing. When vomiting blood occurs majorly and you experience the aforementioned symptoms, then check with your doctor or dial up emergency help without delaying.

Diagnosis of blood in vomiting

Your doctor will ask you several questions related to your blood vomiting episode. For example, “when it started, the colour of the blood, how much blood came out, if you have experienced blood vomiting before, etc”. He/she will ascertain from where the blood is coming.

Apart from this, your  medical condition, history of medicines and general health will be verified.

Gastroscopy (an endoscopy) will be conducted to determine the cause of bleeding. Apart from that, blood tests, MRI, CT scan, X ray, and ultrasound, if needed, may be suggested to detect an internal condition.

Treatment of blood in vomiting

The first step taken by doctors is to stop blood loss immediately when major blood loss has already happened. For this, blood transfusion along with intravenous fluids will be given to make up for the lost blood and to maintain blood pressure, respectively.

Under emergency, oesophagogastro-duodenoscopy may be performed to stop blood loss. Your doctor might also prescribe medicines to stop blood vomiting.

Once the bleeding is controlled, the treatment will be continued to cure the primary reason behind blood vomiting.

Complications of blood in vomiting

Excessive vomiting of blood can lead to chocking, anaemia and may push one to state of shock.

We suggest you to be calm instead of getting panicky on observing blood in your vomiting. Try to breathe normally and simultaneously call up emergency care or go for a medical check up.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 27, 2015