What To Do If You Discover Yourself Vomiting Blood
Vomiting blood or hematemesis occurs when the individual regurgitates whatever is in the stomach with blood or regurgitates blood alone. Blood in vomit is usually from the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as your stomach.
In most cases, vomiting blood may be triggered because of minor causes, such as nosebleeds or mouth injury. These cases, while common, do not result in any long-term damage. In rare cases, vomiting blood may spell a severe medical emergency or condition such as an internal injury, organ rupture, and organ bleeding.
What does hematemesis look like?
The colour of the hematemesis will help to inform your doctor of the exact source and seriousness of the bleeding. Vomited blood may appear:
- Fresh and bright red
- Red streaks with food
- Coffee brown
Bright red blood often points towards acute bleeding of your stomach or oesophagus and may indicate a fast-bleeding source. The darker the colour of the vomited blood is, the longer the blood has been remaining in your GI tract. It may either be an old injury or a slower yet steady bleeding source. It is always crucial to snap a picture of your vomited blood for your doctor’s reference.
Does vomiting blood result in death?
Vomiting blood due to sudden and excessive bleeding may result in shock caused by internal GI bleeding. Some symptoms of shock are:
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Pale and clammy skin
- Blurred vision
Should you find yourself vomiting blood, consider it a medical emergency, no matter the severity of it. Shock can result in irreversible organ damage, multi-organ dysfunction, and death. Vomiting blood warrants a trip to the ER.
Vomiting blood after alcohol consumption
There are several cases of individuals who vomit blood after consuming alcohol. While rare, you may find it common to yourself if you:
- Consume alcohol on an empty stomach
- Smoke frequently
- Take regularly antipsychotic or antidepressant medication
Alcohol abuse disorder may result in more severe chronic conditions that have symptoms such as hematemesis. Such chronic conditions are oesophageal varices and alcohol-related liver disease. In such cases, the vomiting of blood does not usually surface until the liver has been seriously damaged.
Causes of hematemesis
There are several factors that lead to the vomiting of blood, ranging from minor to major in terms of severity.
The common cause of hematemesis includes:
- Swallowing of blood post nosebleed or oral injury
- A tear in the oesophagus due to excessive vomiting or coughing
- Bleeding ulcer
- Stomach inflammation
- Severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Less common to more severe cases include:
- Oesophageal varices
- Fatty liver disease
- Stomach cancer
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Regardless of how severe your blood vomiting is, it is always recommended to seek emergency help immediately.
Diagnosis and treatment
To properly diagnose the cause of your hematemesis, your doctor will pose a few questions to find out if any recent injury might be the defining cause. Your doctor might also perform an upper endoscopy to take a look at your GI tract while you are under anaesthesia. If cancer is suspected to be the cause of your hematemesis, your doctor may order several imaging tests to help assess the diagnosis. These tests come in the form of:
- PET scans
- CT scans
- MRI scans
You may require a blood transfusion depending on how much blood was lost in the vomiting of blood. Otherwise, for less severe cases, your doctor may just prescribe some medications to stop the vomiting. If specialised help is necessary, your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, who may reassess your situation and deal with it accordingly.
Vomiting blood or hematemesis may be a sign of an underlying condition that you might not be aware of. Hence, we strongly advise you to make an appointment with an abdominal pain specialist such as GUTCARE. We specialise in a variety of treatments, from vomiting blood to colon cancer treatments.