Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding can be dangerous if not properly treated. This is a symptom of a disorder in your digestive tract, resulting in blood appearing in the stool or vomit. In this post, we’ll take a look at what causes GI bleeding in elderly and some other frequently asked questions.
Is Gastric Bleed in Elderly the Same as Internal Bleeding in the Elderly?
How serious is internal bleeding in elderly? How long can an elderly person live with internal bleeding? These are some questions one may have about elderly internal bleeding. Untreated internal bleeding can lead to coma, organ failure, and even death. In severe cases, it can cause death within six hours of hospital admission. This is why it’s vital to get internal bleeding treated as soon as possible.
However, while internal bleeding can sometimes be visible, GI bleeding is not as easy to detect. GI bleeding can originate anywhere from the pharynx to the rectum. The difference between this type of bleeding and internal bleeding is that blood leaks from vessels in such a way that bleeding cannot be seen outside of the body. This makes it imperative to treat right away.
What Are Signs of GI Bleed in Elderly?
Some symptoms of GI bleeding include:
Black or tarry stool
Bright red blood in vomit
Vomiting blood that looks like coffee grounds
Bright or dark red blood mixed with stool
Low blood pressure
Shortness of breath
Faintness or dizziness
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What Are Causes of GI Bleed in Elderly?
What causes internal bleeding in elderly can be very similar to what causes GI bleeding. However, the causes of GI bleeding are pretty different from the causes of internal bleeding in elderly. Causes of GI bleeding in elderly include:
Diverticular disease. This is the most common cause of lower GI bleed in elderly, with an incidence ranging from 15-48%, depending upon the series. Hemorrhage can be severe, with a significant morbidity rate of 10-20%. It occurs when small, bulging pouches develop in the digestive tract.
Peptic ulcer disease. This is the most common source of acute upper GI bleeding in elderly people. This is when a sore develops on the lining of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine.
Inflammatory bowel disease. This causes inflammation and sores in the colon and rectum.
Tumors. Whether they’re benign or cancerous, tumors of the esophagus, stomach, colon, or rectum can weaken the lining of the digestive tract.
Colon polyps. This occurs when small clumps of cells form on the lining of your colon.
Hemorrhoids. Veins may swell in your anus or lower rectum.
Anal fissures. These are when there are small ruptures in the lining of the anus.
Proctitis. Rectal inflammation can also cause bleeding.
Mallory-Weiss tears. Most common in people who drink a lot of alcohol, this occurs when there are tears in the lining of the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
Esophageal varices. People with severe liver disease may have abnormal, enlarged veins in the esophagus.
Esophagitis. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause inflammation of the esophagus.
How Do You Treat GI Bleed in Elderly?
But how long can an elderly person live with GI bleeding? This can depend on various factors such as the underlying cause and the promptness of medical intervention. Some elderly individuals can live many years while others can deteriorate quickly. Below are some treatment methods for GI bleeding, which can limit mortality rates:
High-fiber diet to treat hemorrhoids and anal fissures
Surgery to remove or fix harmful tumors, lumps, and hemorrhoids
IV proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to suppress stomach acid
Medications or antibiotics to clear the stomach of blood, clots, or food residue
You can determine the best treatment method based on the underlying causes of GI bleeding. Be sure to speak to your doctor about the best course of action.