The presence of blood in vomit is often a frightening experience that raises a number of doubts in mind with respect to the reason causing this problem. In case of vomiting blood, identifying the underlying cause becomes even more imperative.
Nonetheless, in most of the cases, causes of blood in vomit are related to upper gastrointestinal bleeding, usually due to rupture. The upper gastrointestinal or digestive tract consists of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and the beginning part of small intestine.
Some blood vomiting causes are serious whereas some are minor. The severity of condition depends on the amount of blood vomiting. Throwing up blood due to serious underlying cause may be accompanied by symptoms like weakness, lethargy, shortness of breath, dizziness etc.
What Causes Blood in Vomit?
In medical terms, the condition of vomiting blood is referred to as Hematemesis. Gastritis, Esophagitis, Gastroenteritis, Peptic Ulcer, tumors of the stomach or esophagus are the most common yet dreadful vomiting blood causes.
Bleeding in digesting tract further leading to blood in the vomit may also be due to inflammation in the small intestine characterized by Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Some other reasons for blood in vomit are excessive retching, erosion in the lining of stomach or esophagus, Intestinal Schistosomiasis, vascular malformations of the GI tract and other such conditions.
Moreover, causes of blood in vomit and stool are usually quite similar. The condition of blood in stool and vomit accompanied by abdominal pain is often indicative of any disorder in the GI tract such as bleeding ulcers or esophageal varices.
Esophageal varices, in turn, may be caused by portal hypertension. Prolonged use of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs can give rise to and worsen stomach ulcers, thereby resulting in blood vomit.
At times, continuous or forceful vomiting or coughing may lead to tearing in any part of the small blood vessels present in the throat or esophagus. This tearing of blood vessel is what causes bleeding when coughing or sick.
Factors like changes in bowel habits, stool color, and the presence of pain and tenderness can help a doctor diagnose this problem more effectively. The doctor may further call for tests like Endoscopy, Barium X-rays, Angiography and Radionuclide Scans to locate the source of bleeding in the digestive tract.
What Does Blood in Vomit Look Like?
Blood is usually present in vomit either as bright red in color or similar to coffee grounds and dark brown in color.
Vomiting bright red blood means that the bleeding began just before vomiting whereas vomiting dark blood, often in the form of coffee grounds indicates the blood has been in the stomach for a while and the iron in blood has been oxidized by gastric acids.
Blood in stool may be present in the form of bright red blood coating on stool, dark colored blood mixed with stool or black or tarry stools.
When dealing with blood in the vomit, it is better to avoid eating solid foods that are difficult to digest. Instead, take rest, have a liquid diet and drink adequate amount of water at regular intervals to keep the body hydrated and make up for the loss of fluids.
In case the condition of blood in vomit causes a great deal of discomfort and is accompanied by a considerable amount of blood, it would be better to consult a doctor as soon as possible.