Published: 12/06/2014 - Updated: 05/18/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Any time there is any sort of bleeding in the intestinal tract, it is referred to as a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which is a condition that could be caused by several factors and presents different symptoms.
Intestinal tract and gastrointestinal hemorrhage
The intestinal tract spans from the mouth to the anus and measures approximately 11 to 12 meters in length. The food bolus that travels throughout the intestinal tract starts at the mouth, with chewing, whereby the teeth grind and moisten the food with saliva. This makes the food soft, allowing it to cross the pharynx, continuing on to the intestinal tract. Once it passes the pharynx it continues through the esophagus until reaching the stomach, an sack-like organ that is made of muscles. It can fit one and a half liters, and the mucous it secretes is known as gastric juice. This juice is in charge of preparing or absorbing foods.
Once the food bolus passes through the stomach and is digested, it then travels towards the small intestine, which is 6 meters long, but is rolled up. The first part of the small intestine is known as the duodenum. It receives the secretions from the intestinal glands, like bile and pancreatic juices. These secretions helps break down foods, as they are rich in enzymes that are in charge of decomposing foods and transforming them into simple soluble substances.
From the small intestine, the food bolus continues to the large intestine. The large intestine measures more than one and a half meters in length, and continues to the rectum to end in the anus. This is where food residue that could not be digested is evacuated.
Knowing the parts that make up the intestinal tract, gastrointestinal hemorrhages are divided into two kinds: high gastrointestinal hemorrhage and low gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
The high gastrointestinal hemorrhage includes anywhere from the esophagus to the first part of the small intestine. The low gastrointestinal hemorrhage contains the remaining areas of the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum and the anus.
Symptoms of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage
- Blood in feces is one of the most common symptoms of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, although a lot of times the amount of blood (or hemorrhage) could be very small, and not very easily detected.
- Dark brown colored feces
- Blood flow from the anus or rectum.
- Blood in the toilet after a bowel movement, blood on toilet paper or in feces (excrement). This type of hemorrhage is generally produced by hemorrhoids or varicose veins in the interior area of the anus.
- Vomiting blood: when hemorrhages are high and cause strong cough or aggressive and constant vomiting.
- Small hemorrhages that occur over a long period of time could cause problems like anemia or low hemogram.
Gastrointestinal hemorrhages should be tended to according to what causes them.
Simple causes of gastrointestinal hemorrhages
- Anal fissure
- Tearing in the anal area
Gastrointestinal hemorrhages could be a sign of more serious conditions, like:
- Gastric or stomach ulcer
- Small intestine cancer, stomach cancer, intestinal polyps (a precancerous condition).
- Abnormal blood vessels in the intestinal lining (angiodysplasia)
- Esophageal varicose veins
- Intestine that enters itself (intussusception)
- Diverticulitis or meckel’s diverticulum
- Celiac Sprue or Chrohn’s disease
- Mallory-weiss tear
- Radiation damage to the intestine
Once you know the cause of the gastrointestinal hemorrhage, there may be several therapies available for the area in which it is located to stop the hemorrhage or to treat the cause.
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- For hemorrhoids, they must be treated immediately with diet and a daily exercise routine. Hemorrhoids are generally caused by a poor diet (excessive meat, lack of fiber or water, excessive junk food or sugary food, refined pastries, etc.) and lack of movement (a sedentary life). It is very important in this case that you include papaya in your diet, which will help reduce inflammation and will cure the hemorrhoids. It will also keep your stomach in good order and the intestines fluid. Ginger, citric juices, and apples are wonderful natural aids for healing hemorrhoids. On the other hand, you need to keep an eye on excess tension or anxiety, because they causes influence the appearance of hemorrhoids. This advice is also recommendable in the case of diverticulitis or polyps.
- In the case of strong cough or vomiting blood, you must follow a balanced diet and rest. Increase your vitamin C and A intake, include citrus fruits, carrots, and broccoli, as well as aloe juice and plant-based milks.
- If the bleeding is due to some type of cancer, diet is also a primary factor in healing. In this case, we recommend going on a diet for one or two full days, whereby you choose to eat either solely papaya or solely pineapple, and two liters of fresh water a day. At the beginning of this diet, you should drink two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Once you have finished this toxin-moving diet, you should eat a bland diet, avoiding all junk food, meats, fried food, cow’s milk and derivatives, and all refined products like white sugar or bread. You should include in your diet vegetable soups, whole grain rice, fruit and vegetable juices (avoid mixing fruits with vegetables). You must also include ginger in your diet and taking Brewer’s yeast, as well as sprouts and plant-based milks. You should combine this diet with a routine of exercise and introspection regarding the way in which you feel and react to life. Cancer is caused by strong states of resentment, repressed criticism, hatred and feelings of vengeance.
- Anemia from a hemorrhage: this should be cared for with a high-quality diet and proper body oxygenation, which is achieved through exercise.
- Angiodysplasia: this is caused by weakened or aged blood vessels. This must be treated with the diet suggested for hemorrhoids, increasing your consumption of vegetable juices, consuming spirulina seaweed, brewer’s yeast, whole milks and grains, as well as beets, aloe and alfalfa. It is important that you exercise in order to keep your veins healthy. Yoga and stretching exercises, as well as good breathing and oxygenation are indispensable for good vein health. On the other hand, you should evaluate your emotional world as well. States of sadness, desperation or frustration predispose an individual to weak veins or premature aging.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 05/18/2018
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