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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding may occur in any part of your digestive tract. This includes your esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, or anus. Bleeding may be mild to severe. Your 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.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Activity:

Rest in bed until your GI bleeding is controlled. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. Call your healthcare provider before you get up for the first time. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.

Nutrition:

You may be on a liquid diet for 1 to 2 days. A liquid diet will give your digestive system time to heal. When your symptoms are gone, you can eat your regular foods.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics help treat an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Acid-lowering medicine may be given to treat an ulcer.

Tests:

  • Blood tests may be done to measure your blood cell levels. This information will tell healthcare providers how much blood you have lost. Blood tests will also check for infection and get information about your overall health.
  • A sample of your bowel movement may be collected and tested for blood or infection.
  • X-ray or CT pictures may show bleeding or problems in your digestive tract. Contrast liquid may be given to help your digestive tract show up better in pictures. Tell a healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • An anoscopy is used to look for bleeding in your anus or rectum. Samples of bowel movement can also be taken and sent to the lab for tests.
  • An endoscopy is a procedure used to find the cause of bleeding in your stomach, esophagus, or small intestine.
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure used to find the cause of bleeding in your intestines or rectum.

Treatment:

  • A blood transfusion may be given if you have lost a lot of blood.
  • A nasogastric tube (NGT) may be put into your nose. The NGT passes through your throat and is guided into your stomach. The NGT will be attached to a suction device that removes air and fluid from your stomach.
  • Treatment during endoscopy or colonoscopy may be done. Medicine may be injected into your esophagus, stomach, or intestines to stop bleeding. Heat or an electrical current may also be applied to stop bleeding. Other procedures, such as banding, may be used. Banding uses a plastic band to cut off the blood supply to a blood vessel. This stops the bleeding in your digestive tract.
  • Surgery may be needed to find and stop GI bleeding.

RISKS:

GI bleeding may become life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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