Bleeding Ulcers: Symptoms and Causes
Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
It started with feeling a little run down after working extra hard, perhaps there was some lightheadedness when he stood too quickly, and then came the fatigue. The baseball world blamed Ichiro Suzuki's malaise on playing too much in the World Baseball Classic. During spring training, baseball players are supposed to lounge and gradually get themselves into shape, not play like it's the World Series in October. But the baseball world was wrong. It was discovered in April 2009 that Ichiro was tired because he was anemic and because he was bleeding from an ulcer.
The scenario plays out routinely off the playing field too often. A person feels run down and blames it on all sorts of circumstances, but finally goes to their doctor to get some help. The clues come from the history of heartburn and indigestion, or maybe it was the extra aspirin or ibuprofen to help with the stress headaches at work. There may be a little tenderness in the belly, and after some coercion on the part of the doctor, the patient agrees to a rectal exam. It shows that the stool has occult blood in it (rectal bleeding); that is blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye but shows up with a chemical test. A blood test (CBC) shows that the patient is anemic, meaning there is a low red blood cell count. Put the clues together and the doctor tells the patient that the fatigue and tiredness is due to bleeding....