Blood in vomit or vomiting blood

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Blood in vomit or vomiting blood

Finding blood in your vomit can be alarming. Diagnosing the cause is essential.

Finding blood in your vomit or actually vomiting blood can be alarming. Promptly identifying the cause is essential.

Causes are varied

You may find blood in your vomit for various reasons, including:

  • Ingested blood. If you swallow blood — during a nosebleed, for example — subsequent vomiting may include some of this blood.
  • Prolonged or vigorous vomiting. Vomiting may cause a tear in the small blood vessels of the throat or lower esophagus. This may cause blood to appear in your vomit.
  • Peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach, upper small intestine or esophagus. In addition to feeling a burning pain anywhere from your navel to your breastbone, you may vomit blood that appears either red or dark (like coffee grounds).
  • Internal inflammation. Inflamed tissue in the esophagus (esophagitis), stomach (gastritis) or upper part of the small intestine may cause blood to appear in your vomit.
  • Cancer. Various types of cancer may cause you to vomit blood, especially cancers of the stomach and esophagus.

Vomiting red blood indicates that the bleeding began shortly before you vomited. If the blood is black or appears dark brown and has the texture of old coffee grounds, the blood has been in your stomach for a longer time.

When to see your doctor

Consult your doctor immediately if you notice blood in your vomit or begin vomiting blood. These symptoms may indicate a serious problem that needs urgent treatment.

Last Updated: 04/27/2007
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