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Alternative NamesHematemesis; Blood in the vomit
Definition Return to top
Vomiting blood is a backward flowing (regurgitation) of blood through the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The upper GI tract includes the stomach, mouth, throat, esophagus (the swallowing tube), and the first part of the small intestine.
Considerations Return to top
Vomiting blood results from upper gastrointestinal bleeding. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between vomiting blood and coughing up blood (from the lung) or a nosebleed.
Conditions that cause vomiting blood can also cause blood in the stool.
Causes Return to top
There are several reasons why someone may vomit blood. For example, vomiting that is very forceful or continues for a very long time may cause a tear in the small blood vessels of the throat or the esophagus, producing streaks of blood in the vomit.
Other causes may include:
Home Care Return to top
Although not all situations are the result of a major medical problem, this is difficult to know without a medical evaluation. Seek immediate medical attention.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if vomiting of blood occurs -- this requires immediate medical evaluation.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will examine you and ask questions such as:
Tests that may be done include:
If you have vomited a lot of blood, emergency treatment may be needed. This may include:
References Return to top
Overton DT. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill; 2006:chap 74.Update Date: 1/16/2009 Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, Clinic. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.