What causes vomiting blood?

Blood that is vomited usually comes from what is referred to as the upper GI, or gastrointestinal, tract. This includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (upper part of the small intestine). Pancreatic problems can also be the source of blood vomiting.

There are several causes of vomiting blood. Most of them are very serious and require immediate medical attention.

Causes can include:

  • A tear (called a Mallory-Weiss tear) in the lining of the esophagus, caused by excessive vomiting
  • Swollen veins (varices) in the lower part of the esophagus and stomach. This often happens in people with severe liver damage, including people with long-term alcoholism.
  • A bleeding stomach or duodenal ulcer
  • Irritation or swelling of the esophagus, called esophagitis
  • A benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous tumor in the stomach or esophagus
  • A severe injury to the abdominal area, as caused by a car accident or blow to the abdomen
  • An inflammation of the stomach, called gastritis
  • Taking too much aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • A condition called Dieulafoy's lesion that affects an artery in the stomach wall
  • Inflammation of the small intestine, called duodenitis
  • Pancreatic cancer

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