Blood in Vomit

Mouth | Gastroenterology | Blood in Vomit (Symptom)


Blood in vomit is medically known by the term as Hematemesis. The bleeding usually occurs from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It can easily be confused with hemoptysis or coughing up blood, although the latter is more common. When blood is vomited, it may appear either a bright red or dark red color. Only blood may be seen, or the blood may come up mixed with food.


The upper GI tract includes the stomach, mouth, throat, esophagus, and the first part of the small intestine. Blood that is vomited may come from any one of these places. For example, vomiting that is very forceful or continues for a very long time may cause a tear in the small blood vessels of the throat or the esophagus, producing streaks of blood in the vomit.

Swollen veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus, and sometimes the stomach, may begin to bleed. These veins are present in people with severe liver damage.

Other causes may include: bleeding ulcer in the stomach, first part of the small intestine, or esophagus, defects in the blood vessels of the GI tract, swelling, irritation, or inflammation of the esophagus lining (esophagitis) or the stomach lining (gastritis), swallowing blood, for example after a nosebleed, tumors of the stomach or esophagus, Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome and history of smoking.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Hematemesis is treated as a medical emergency. The most vital distinction is whether there is sufficient blood loss to cause shock or not.


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