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Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding may occur in any part of your child's digestive tract. This includes his or her esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, or anus. Bleeding may be mild to severe. Your child's bleeding may begin suddenly or start slowly and last for a longer period of time. Bleeding that lasts for a longer period of time is called chronic GI bleeding.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
  • Your child faints or loses consciousness.
  • Your child has chest pain.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child feels dizzy or is too weak to stand.
  • Your child's heart is beating faster than usual.
  • Your child vomits blood, or his or her vomit looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child has blood in his or her bowel movement.
  • Your child has abdominal pain or swelling.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a bowel movement that is tarry or black.
  • Your child has nausea or is vomiting.
  • Your child has heartburn.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Have your child rest as directed. Ask when your child can return to his or her usual activities, such as school. Let your child slowly do more each day.


Ask if your child needs to be on a special diet. A special diet can help treat GI conditions and prevent problems such as GI bleeding. Feed your child small meals more often while he or she heals. Limit or do not give your child caffeine or spicy foods. Do not give your child foods that cause heartburn, nausea, or diarrhea.

Prevent GI bleeding:

  • Manage your child's GI conditions as directed. Examples of GI conditions include gastroesophageal reflux, peptic ulcer disease, and ulcerative colitis. Give your child all medicines for these conditions as directed.
  • Do not give your child NSAIDs. NSAIDs can cause GI bleeding.
  • Do not let your older child smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your child's risk for stomach ulcers. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information if your child currently smokes and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your child's healthcare provider before he or she uses these products.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need to return for a colonoscopy, endoscopy, or other tests. These tests can make sure your child does not have more bleeding. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.