Bloody or tarry stool may indicate a digestive tract disorder and if the stool color remains for more than two consecutive days a consultation with your doctor is needed to locate where the problem is. Besides internal bleeding in the digestive tract, blood in the stool may also indicate liver problems.
Depending on the appearance, the stools may look either black, tarry or bright red colored. This variation is normally due to different origins of the blood. Gastrointestinal tract starts from mouth to the large bowel and anus, and knowing the exact stool color will help the doctor to locate the bleeding origin.
Digestive tract is divided into upper and lower GI tract. Upper gastrointestinal tract covers the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Black or tarry stool normally is due to bleeding in this upper part section. When blood is exposed to the digestive fluid the color will turn black, the more blood the more tarry the stools will be. Stomach or gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers are common causes of upper GI tract bleeding.
Stomach ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often share the same symptoms which may include vomiting, burping, nausea and burning hunger-pain sensation. Tarry stools in people with GERD can be due to esophagus bleeding, which blood flows down into the stomach and processed by the gastric juices. If regurgitation happens the vomit material will also look bloody or black like coffee grounds. Other causes of blood vomiting may also due to gastric and duodenal ulcers. Blood vomiting is normally related with upper gastrointestinal tract disorders.
Severe acid reflux disease can cause inflammation of the esophagus caused by the erosive acid fluid. Prolonged exposure to this gastric acid can trigger the development of Barrett's esophagus, a change in the lining of the esophagus to mimic the lining of the stomach so it can withstand the acid from the stomach. Unfortunately some people with Barrett's esophagus can also develop acid reflux cancer in further stage, although the case is rare.
What to do if you are vomiting blood?
If vomiting of blood occurs you need to undergo immediate medical examination. Be prepared to answer questions like:
– What's the color of the blood? Was it black like coffee grounds or bright red / maroon?
– Was it your first experience? If not, how often it happened?
– What's the blood volume?
– Were you under medication? If so, what medicines did you take?
– What's your medical condition? Have you ever been diagnosed with serious body disorders?
– What other symptoms accompanied the blood vomiting?
– Do you smoke or drink alcohol?
There are many causes of blood vomiting and blood in stools but if you have been diagnosed with GERD the bleeding is most likely related to your acid reflux disease.