What is Intestinal Bleeding?
Intestinal Bleeding is a condition in which people bleed internally from the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract. GI tract is a vast organ system which starts in mouth, goes down to the esophagus, stomach, small intestine (which is about 22 feet long!) and finally to colon which could be 4-6 feet long and ending at the rectum and anal canal. This means that there is a vast surface area for the bleeding to occur. If one could straighten out all the folds of the GI tract and made it into a flat surface, it will be equal to a large football field! Therefore, internal bleeding could be from esophagus, stomach, duodenum or other parts of small intestine and finally from colon or rectum.
What are the symptoms of Intestinal Bleeding?
Early on there may not be any symptoms but your physician might pick it up on a routine health test called “Fecal occult blood test”. This test comes in various choices and each physician has his/her own preference, some perform it with a rectal test for prostate for male.
If bleeding continues, one will develop anemia or low blood count and usually with low iron content. At this time a patient might feel fatigued, short of breath with minimum exertion of daily chores, lack of energy and some patients may even develop unusual food craving like craving for ice etc. Some people develop flat tongue and shallow ulcers at the angles of the mouth.
What diseases cause Intestinal Bleeding?
Many diseases cause Intestinal Bleeding but one of the reason why physicians take it very seriously is it might be an early indication of colon cancer. Any disease that comprises the integrity of theinner lining of the GI tract could cause cancers to Crohn’s disease, to colitis to peptic ulcer, to stomach inflammation or gastritis to esophagitis due to reflux. This is why it is important to take a physician’s opinion and decide what appropriate checkup's needs to be done.
How is Intestinal Bleeding treated?
What type of tests may I need?
As always Intestinal Bleeding is treated according to its cause. If one is suffering from internal bleeding the first job for a physician is to determine what is the cause of the bleeding. Once a definitive cause is found, the cause is treated. For example if it is a colon cancer, it will be treated one way, if it is an ulcer it will be treated in a different way. If an appropriate cause is found, it is generally not difficult to come up with a good treatment strategy on the part of a competent physician.
This varies according to the patient’s presentation- age, history and severity of the bleeding. Example, for a 52 year old person who is otherwise healthy, it will begin with a colonoscopy exam. If colonoscopy is negative, an EGD or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy will be the next test. These have to be guided from time to time with blood tests to know the severity of the disease. If all of the above work up are negative, the physician may order a Capsule Endoscopy for small intestine inspection. Radiologic tests like CT scan might also have roles in the process at times.
Your GI Center's role?
Your GI Center and it’s physicians are proficient in handling these sorts of diseases very confidently. Dr. Meah and Dr. Le have worked up and successfully resolved hundreds and perhaps thousands of healthy satisfied patients in their career. They have all the amenities and trained ancillary personnel at their disposal to achieve this. We are a destination center for patients from a vast geographic area who want their problems to be resolved in an efficient way. Please call our office if you need any further information in this regard.