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A bleeding ulcer results from a peptic or gastric ulcer that erodes the lining of the stomach or small intestine. According to the Mayo Clinic, if not treated properly, these can develop into bleeding ulcers. Peptic ulcers bleed when they break through the lining. The National Institutes of Health state that gastric acid also attacks nearby blood vessels, causing further bleeding. A bleeding ulcer is a serious medical condition; it is important to recognize the symptoms to prevent complications.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Abdominal Pain and Nausea
Although abdominal pain and nausea are symptoms of various illnesses, the sudden onset of these symptoms in patients already diagnosed with an ulcer must be discussed with a doctor. Ulcers that perforate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract result in sudden pain due to the acid affecting other nearby organs or blood vessels.
Blood in Stools or Vomit
Esophageal Erosion Symptoms
Blood in the stools or in vomit also cause severe nausea and indicate a bleeding ulcer; however, blood does not always appear fresh or bright red. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that it looks like tiny bits of coffee grounds or thick and black, resembling tar 1. These symptoms are a result of internal bleeding and do not appear immediately. Patients suffering extreme nausea must look for and report signs of bleeding.
- Blood in the stools or in vomit also cause severe nausea and indicate a bleeding ulcer; however, blood does not always appear fresh or bright red.
Dizziness, Paleness, and Fatigue
The internal bleeding of a peptic ulcer results in a loss of blood flowing through the body. Instead of transporting oxygen and nutrients, the blood pools and causes anemia. Symptoms of anemia and blood loss are dizziness, loss of skin tone or coloring resulting in a pale appearance and general fatigue. According to the Penn State College of Medicine, bleeding ulcers are a common cause of anemia.
- The internal bleeding of a peptic ulcer results in a loss of blood flowing through the body.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ulcers
- Milosavljevic T, Kostić-milosavljević M, Jovanović I, Krstić M. Complications of peptic ulcer disease. Dig Dis. 2011;29(5):491-3. doi:10.1159/000331517
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Ulcers. Updated October 29, 2018.
- Chung KT, Shelat VG. Perforated peptic ulcer - an update. World J Gastrointest Surg. 2017;9(1):1-12. doi:10.4240/wjgs.v9.i1.1
- Koop AH, Palmer WC, Stancampiano FF. Gastric outlet obstruction: A red flag, potentially manageable. Cleve Clin J Med. 2019;86(5):345-353. doi:10.3949/ccjm.86a.18035
- American College of Gastroenterology. Peptic ulcer disease.
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."