Blood in stool (rectal bleeding) causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention

By: Devon Andre | Colon And Digestive | Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 02:00 PM

Blood in stool (rectal bleeding) causes, symptoms, treatment and preventionBlood in stool (rectal bleeding) can be quite scary as it can be an indicator of a slew of health problems. Whenever you notice blood in your stool, you should go see your doctor as it can range in severity from a burst hemorrhoid to internal bleeding.

Blood in stool can vary in color depending on the severity and location of the bleeding. Blood in stool can be bright red, maroon, or even black. In some cases, the blood may not even be visible to the human eye (this is referred to as occult bleeding) and so you need to pay close attention to other symptoms that can signal a problem.

So what exactly does it mean to poop out blood? Well, rectal bleeding refers to the passage of blood from the anus. In some cases, the blood comes directly from the anus, but in other cases it can originate in the intestines or stomach.

If you’re wondering whether it is normal to have blood in your poop, it is not, unfortunately. Blood in stool is usually a sign of some form of problem, and the only matter that should be in our poop is food we consumed and other bodily waste – not blood.

What is the cause of blood in your stool?

There are numerous causes for blood in your stool, but in order to determine what is causing yours, you need to see a doctor. Blood in stool can be caused due to abnormal blood vessels, a tear in the esophagus from violent vomiting, bleeding ulcer in the stomach, cut off blood supply to the stomach, inflammation of the stomach lining, trauma or a foreign body, widened, overgrown veins, anal fissures, polyps, cancer, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, or intestinal infection.

The color of the blood you see depends on the cause of the blood in stool. When the blood is maroon color or bright red, this often indicates it is coming from the intestines, rectum, or anus. If it is black or tarry, that typically indicates it is from the upper digestive tract like esophagus and stomach.

Blood in stool signs and symptoms

The primary sign and symptom of rectal bleeding is visible blood in one’s stool. As mentioned, this can vary in color from bright red to black, so sometimes it may be difficult to see. Other symptoms involved in rectal bleeding have to do with the underlying health condition. For example, if blood in stool is caused by an inflammatory bowel disease, you may notice other symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constant bloating, to name a few.

If you notice any changes to your health along with pooping blood, see your doctor right away.

Blood in stool diagnosis and treatment

There are numerous tests that your doctor can run in order to properly determine the cause of blood in stool and choose the appropriate treatment option. Diagnostic tests for rectal bleeding include:

  • Nasogastric lavage, the process to help your doctor determine if blood is coming from the upper digestive tract.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) – an endoscope is inserted down a person’s mouth to check their esophagus.
  • Colonoscopy and Barium X-ray.
  • Radionuclide scanning – injecting small amounts of radioactive material into the veins and using a camera to determine where the bleeding is occurring.
  • Laparotonomy – the doctor opens the abdomen, if all other tests fail to determine the bleeding site.
  • Checking blood work for H. pylori, anemia, and clotting problems.

Treatment methods for blood in stool involve correcting low blood volume and anemia, diagnosing the underlying cause and treating it, stopping the active bleeding and preventing rebleeding, and, lastly, looking for non-bleeding lesions that may bleed in the future.

Blood in stool: Preventing rebleeding

If you have had a prior history of rectal bleeding, you surely want to avoid it again, but prevention doesn’t have much to do with the bleeding itself as with preventing the underlying conditions that contribute to rectal bleeding.

For example, hemorrhoids can be prevented through a healthy diet full of fiber and preventing constipation and straining. Addressing constipation also prevents other health conditions such as diverticulitis. Alcohol abuse, too, can contribute to rectal bleeding in a number of ways, so reduce your alcohol intake or seek help for any problems you may have with alcohol.

Your doctor can recommend effective ways to ensure that future episodes of rectal bleeding don’t occur.

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