Vomiting Blood (Hematemesis)

Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea

Mar 22, 2020


No matter the circumstances, vomiting is always an unpleasant experience. Add to that the fact that it often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms of illness — such as fatigue, fever, chills, or an upset stomach — and it’s enough to make the ordeal miserable. But, if in addition to the regular discomforts that usually come with vomiting, you notice you also regurgitated blood, you likely feel concerned about what it means. What’s going on with your health? What causes a person to vomit blood? And, when should you go to the ER?

What is hematemesis?

The medical term for vomiting blood is hematemesis. It’s a serious condition, as it often signifies that the person is bleeding internally. Signs that this is precisely what you’re experiencing include bright red blood in your vomit, brown or black vomit, vomiting items with the look and consistency of coffee grounds, and/or bowel movements that have blood in them or look like tar. Small streaks or flecks of blood are not usually considered to be hematemesis.

Causes of Hematemesis

Hematemesis can be caused by a lot of different internal injuries. In more serious cases, it could be an indication of cirrhosis, or esophageal or pancreatic cancer. Some of the most common include:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis
  • H. pylori
  • Bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Bleeding intestinal varices
  • Tumors in the stomach or esophagus
  • Using blood thinners
  • Hemorrhagic fever
  • Violent retching that causes tears in the stomach or esophagus
  • Organ rupture

If the person vomiting blood is a child, it could be due to a congenital abnormality, milk allergy, blood clotting disorders, vitamin K deficiency, or swallowing an object. If the person vomiting consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, the blood may be a sign of cirrhosis or burst blood vessels in the liver.

When to Go to the ER if You’re Vomiting Blood

In rare instances, vomiting blood may be caused by something relatively minor — such as a nose bleed or swallowing blood from a mouth injury. However, if none of these apply to you, vomiting blood is an emergency. Seek medical attention immediately. Tell your doctor when you started vomiting blood, the amount of blood vomited, and whether it was bright red or black. Mention every single recent illness you’ve had or if you have any chronic medical conditions — as well as the medications you’re taking to treat them.

If you’re experiencing signs of too much blood loss — such as dizziness, rapid breathing, pale and cool skin, a fast pulse, and/or weakness, call 911 immediately. Failing to do so may put your health and life at risk.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re vomiting blood, we can provide you with the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.