When most people hear the words “gastrointestinal bleed,” they automatically think of a stomach ulcer that has caused internal bleeding. But there are two different types of gastrointestinal bleeds: upper and lower. Upper gastrointestinal bleeds originate in the esophagus, stomach, or first part of the small intestine, while lower gastrointestinal bleeds come from the large intestine or rectum. Each type has its own unique causes and symptoms. So what are the differences between upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeds? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Lower Gastrointestinal Bleed?
Lower gastrointestinal bleed, also known as Lower GI bleed, is a medical condition in which there is bleeding from the Lower gastrointestinal tract. The Lower gastrointestinal tract includes the rectum and the colon.
- Lower GI bleed can be a result of many different conditions, such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or colorectal cancer. Lower GI bleed can also be caused by medications, such as aspirin or NSAIDs. Lower GI bleeds can range from mild to severe, and can often be life-threatening.
- Treatment for Lower GI bleed depends on the cause of the bleeding. If the bleeding is caused by a minor condition, such as hemorrhoids, treatment may simply involve taking over-the-counter medication or Changing your diet.
- However, if the bleeding is more severe, treatment may require hospitalization and blood transfusions. Lower GI bleeds are a serious medical condition that should be treated by a healthcare professional.
What is Upper Gastrointestinal Bleed?
Upper gastrointestinal bleed (UGIB) is bleeding that originates from the stomach or upper part of the small intestine. The most common symptom of UGIB is a black, tarry stool. However, other symptoms may include vomiting blood, bright red blood in stool, and dizziness or lightheadedness. UGIB can be caused by a number of conditions, including ulcers, gastritis, and esophageal varices. In some cases, UGIB may be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. If you think you may be experiencing UGIB, it is important to seek medical help right away.
Difference between Upper and Lower Gastrointestinal Bleed
Upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeds (UGIB and LGIB, respectively) are major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.
- Despite their name, they are not always caused by bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Upper gastrointestinal bleeds can also be caused by the rupture of submucosal veins or ulcers in the stomach or duodenum.
- Lower gastrointestinal bleeds can be caused by ischemia, inflammation, or tumors in the large intestine.
- The most common symptom of an upper gastrointestinal bleed is hematemesis or vomiting of blood.
- The most common symptom of a lower gastrointestinal bleed is melena or black stools due to the presence of old blood in the stool.
Treatment for UGIB typically includes endoscopy, while treatment for LGIB often includes colonoscopy. In both cases, aggressive hydration and blood transfusion may be necessary.
Upper gastrointestinal bleeds are caused by problems in the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. These bleeds can be from a number of sources including ulcers, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), tumors, and foreign bodies. Lower gastrointestinal bleeds occur in the large intestine and rectum. The most common cause is hemorrhoids, followed by diverticulitis (inflammation of pouches in the intestinal wall) and colorectal cancer. Knowing which type of bleed you’re experiencing is important for getting proper treatment. If you have any concerns that you might be experiencing a gastrointestinal bleed, please speak with your doctor.