UGI bleed – A Case Study

Published on: 2017/09/30

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Sleisinger review, UGI bleed, upper gastrointestinal bleed

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What causes Upper Gastrointestinal or UGI Bleed?

UGI bleed is commonly caused by bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum. It is gastrointestinal bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. As a result of UGI bleed, a person may have blood in the vomit (hematemesis) or his stool (melena). UGI bleed is a symptom of a disease. In many cases, the blood loss may lead to insufficient blood volume and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Is gastrointestinal bleeding life threatening?

Acute or chronic UGI bleed may happen suddenly and it can be life-threatening. Some symptoms of acute UGI bleed show up, which include:

  1. Blood in vomit (hematemesis)
  2. Blood in stool (melena)
  3. Abdominal cramps
  4. Anemia
  5. Dark stools
  6. Fatigue
  7. Paleness

UGI bleed is diagnosed by upper endoscopy (inserted through mouth or rectum), colonoscopy (for large intestine) or Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). The diagnosis is done mainly to identify the cause of UGI bleed.

What are the causes of UGI bleed?

The common causes of UGI bleed are:

Peptic ulcers:

These are the ulcers that develop in the upper part of the small intestine or inside the lining of the stomach. A person with peptic ulcers experiences stomach pain. Peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori bacterium or long-term use of aspirin.

Gastric erosions

It is caused by damage of mucosal defenses of a person. Mild gastric erosions may not have any symptoms. Common symptoms of acute erosive gastritis are melena or hematemesis. Gastric erosions are caused by stress, alcohol consumption, and NSAIDs.

Esophageal Varices

In people with liver disease, the veins in the esophagus get enlarged. This is caused by a clot in tissue in the liver. As a result, the blood vessels rupture, which causes UGI to bleed. Some common symptoms of liver diseases are yellow pigmentation of skin and cornea and fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Gastric cancer or stomach cancer

It is caused by cancer cells in the inner lining of the stomach. Common causes of gastric cancer are H. pylori bacterium, gastric inflammation, polyps in the stomach, obesity, smoking, genes, high consumption of smoked food, etc. The onset of stomach cancer shows no symptoms and a doctor may not be able to diagnose until it gets severe.

Crohn’s disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Crohn’s disease is the inflammation in the digestive tract. A person with IBD may experience severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue. On rare cases, IBD can result in GI bleed.

Read more – UGI bleed, a case study by Dr. Sreenivas