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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal Bleeding or GI bleeding refers to bleeding from any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth and esophagus to the stomach or intestines. Gastrointestinal bleeding can occur due to infection or medications that damage tissues leading to bleeding. GI bleeding needs to be monitored carefully and attended to. Upper Gastrointestinal bleeding can result from gastritis or peptic ulcers. Lower GI bleeding is often due to diverticulitis, polyps, anal fissures or hemorrhoids.


Acute GI bleeding manifests in bloody bowel movements and vomiting of blood. There is fatigue and weakness. The patient suffering GI bleeding may suffer pain in the abdomen. A person suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding experience thirst, low blood pressure and dizziness. The patient may notice black tarry stools.


Laboratory tests, Endoscopy and rectal examinations may be needed to determine the source of the gastrointestinal bleeding. Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia. In severe cases, it can lead to shock and may need hospitalization for further treatment. There might be need for blood transfusion. Upper GI bleeding can be treated with injection of chemicals. Medicines are then prescribed to prevent the bleeding from recurring. If polyps or hemorrhoids are the cause for gastrointestinal bleeding, they are surgically removed.

Potassium Gluconate

This is a potassium supplement useful in those prone to low blood potassium. Its side effects include numbness and tingling of the extremities, confusion, weakness, arrhythmia, ECG changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, GI ulcerations, GI bleeding, intestinal obstruction, and intestinal perforation.

Using potassium gluconate

1. Should not be used in cases of severe kidney disease, acute dehydration, or those who are using potassium sparing diuretics (e.g. spironolactone, triamterene).
2. Enteric coated potassium tablets cannot be recommended due to increased risk of GI bleeding and ulceration.
3. Minimize GI symptoms by taking this medication with food.

Adult and adolescent dose: oral, elixir, 10-20 mEq of potassium diluted in one-half glass of cold water or juice, two to four times a day; or 5-10 mEq potassium in tablet form, two to four times a day; dosage adjusted to need (up to 100 mEq potassium per day).

Upper Endoscopy

Upper Endoscopy test allows a physician to view the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. Upper Endoscopy is also referred to as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or panendoscopy. Patients suffering from persistent upper abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea or difficulty in swallowing may need to undergo upper endoscopy to identify the cause. Upper endoscopy can also be used for collecting biopsy sample. Polyps can be removed and possible causes for upper GI bleeding can be located.

Upper Endoscopy aids in diagnosing peptic ulcer disease. Upper endoscopy is invaluable in detecting H. pylori infection. A patient scheduled for upper endoscopy must come on a empty stomach. The patient is asked to lie on his left side. A small bite block is inserted into the mouth. The endoscope is passed through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. A numbing solution is sprayed on the throat and sedative and pain alleviating medicine is also given to the patient. Images of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum can be seen by the physician on a monitor. Air is blown into the stomach to aid examination. Patients on medications for hypertension, heart condition or thyroid problems must keep the physician informed.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

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