Complications of GI Bleeding

Gastrointestinal, or GI, bleeding means bleeding that begins in the gastrointestinal tract 12. MedlinePlus states that the amount of gastrointestinal bleeding can be undetectable, however, in some cases it can be extensive and dangerous to the life of the individual 12. The bleeding can occur in the upper gastrointestinal tract between the mouth and upper part of the intestine or it can occur in the lower tract between the upper part of the small intestine and the anus 12. MedlinePlus reports that GI bleeding can indicate a serious disease and prolonged and massive bleeding can cause certain complications 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Prolonged bleeding detectable in a microscopic study can lead to the loss of iron in the individual. This can cause anemia, reports the website Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin. It is required to carry oxygen to the tissues of the body. A lack of hemoglobin and a lack of red blood cells can occur during constant GI bleeding, causing anemia. Symptoms of anemia include:

  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • lack of mental clarity


MedlinePlus reports that hypovelemia may occur as a complication of GI bleeding 1. Due to a severe loss of blood and fluid in acute GI bleeding, the heart finds it difficult to pump enough blood to the body, which is referred to as hypovelemia. It is a life-threatening condition since it can cause the body's organs to stop working. Symptoms of this condition include cool, clammy skin; confusion; agitation; decreased urine output; weakness; pale skin; quick breathing; and loss of consciousness.


Another complication of GI bleeding is shock, states 2. Acute and massive bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract can lead to a lack of blood flow to the body 12. This can damage the different organs of the body, causing organ failure. MedlinePlus reports that shock is an emergency condition and if it is not treated immediately, it can worsen quickly, causing irreversible damage to the organs or even death.

Dehydration and Chest Pain explains that dehydration is another complication of gastrointestinal bleeding 12. The individual may also develop pain in the chest, especially if there is a heart condition present.