Vomiting blood or hematemesis is an indication of a serious health issue. A doctor must be consulted right away or bring him/her to the nearest emergency department.
It is important to note that the amount and color of the blood tends to vary:
- Vomiting significant amounts of bright-red blood
- Blood streaks in the vomit that mixes with food
- Coffee grounds in the vomit which indicates that blood has been in the digestive tract for a few hours
A small sample of the vomit should be taken to the doctor to be used as part of the diagnosis.
What are the common causes of vomiting blood?
If an individual is vomiting blood, it indicates that there is bleeding somewhere in the esophagus, stomach or the initial region of the small intestine.
Some of the usual causes of vomiting blood include the following:
- Stomach ulcer or severe gastritis – vomiting blood is accompanied by gnawing or burning discomfort in the abdomen. The bleeding occurs if the ulcer or inflammation impairs an underlying artery.
- Esophageal varices – these are enlarged veins in the lower esophageal walls. These are likely to bleed but do not generally trigger any pain and often brought about by alcoholic liver disease.
- Severe gastroesophageal reflux disease – this condition involves leakage of acid from the stomach and into the esophagus.
- Esophageal tear – extended periods of retching can rip the lining of the esophagus that can result to bleeding
- Swallowed blood – there are instances in which an individual swallows blood such as after a severe nosebleed.
When to expect upon consulting a doctor?
Unless the individual is in a healthy state and the cause is evident such as ingesting blood from a nosebleed, he/she must be hospitalized to undergo testing. These generally include endoscopy and a blood test.
It is vital to determine that the blood vomited originated from the stomach or esophagus and the individual has not coughed it up from the airways or lungs which indicates a different issue.