Vomiting blood is regurgitating (“throwing up”) contents of the stomach that contains blood. Vomited blood may appear either a bright red or dark red color. The vomited material may be mixed with food or it may be blood only.
It may be hard to tell the difference between vomiting blood and coughing up blood (from the lung) or a nosebleed.
Conditions that cause vomiting blood can also cause blood in the stool.
The upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract includes the mouth, throat, esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach and the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Blood that is vomited may come from any of these places.
Vomiting that is very forceful or continues for a very long time may cause a tear in the small blood vessels of the throat. This may produce streaks of blood in the vomit.
Swollen veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus, and sometimes the stomach, may begin to bleed. These veins (called varices) are present in people with severe liver damage.
Other causes may include:
Get medical attention right away. Vomiting blood can be a result of a serious medical problem.
Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if vomiting of blood occurs. You will need to be examined by a health care provider right away.
The doctor will examine you and ask questions such as:
Tests that may be done include:
If you have vomited a lot of blood, you may need emergency treatment. This may include:
Hematemesis; Blood in the vomit
Overton DT. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill; 2006:chap 74.
Henneman PL. Gastrointestinal Bleeding. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 22.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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