Blood In Stool: Causes And Remedies

Blood in stool is a medical condition that can be frightening as it may or might mean a serious gastrointestinal problem. Check out the causes of blood in stool and what you can do about them here.

woman sitting on a toilet bowl

Blood in stool is a medical condition that can be frightening as it may or might mean a serious gastrointestinal problem. Knowing the symptoms, the causes of blood in stool, and how to deal with it can help you avoid life-threatening conditions or further complications. 

What Are The Symptoms

  • Bloodstained toilet paper
  • Maroon-colored feces
  • Dilated varix or vein
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Bloodstained toilet bowl
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
What Causes Blood In Stool

Causes Of Blood in Stool And Remedies

Anal fissure

It’s a tear or small cut in anus tissue lining. It’s caused by the passage of hard and large stool.

Anal fissures heal on themselves and they can be prevented or remedied by using stool softeners, petroleum jellies, and creams.

Angiodysplasia

This refers to the abnormal and fragile blood vessels that cause bleeding.

This can be treated using endoscopic obliteration, iron supplements, hormone therapy, and periodic blood transfusion.

Chrohn’s disease

This can cause inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract and result in severe abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal bleeding

The causes of bleeding depend on the area of occurrence int the digestive tract such as varices, tears, ulcers in the esophagus. It also occurs in the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. Symptoms of upper Gastro bleeding include bright red blood, coffee ground like material, dark clots, and tar-like stool. Lower GI bleeding symptoms include marron-colored and bright red blood in feces. 

Treatment involves blood transfusion, airway stabilization and surgery for serious cases. GI bleeding can be treated by injecting medications to the bleeding site, cauterizing the site with a heated probe. Medications include medicines used to treat H.pylori, ulcers, esophagitis, proton-pump inhibitors, antibiotics, and H2 blockers. In severe cases, surgery is needed. 

Diverticular disease

This comprises two types – diverticulitis and diverticulosis – both cause bloody stool and pain. Diverticulosis happens when diverticula or pouches develop in the colon. It grows to a more than centimeters long. When infection occurs in diverticula, the result is diverticulitis. 

Treatments include abdominal surgery, endoscopy, and antibiotics.

False positives

Some foods can cause blood like pigments in the stool. They are red gelatin, beets, Kool-aid, watermelon, tomatoes, and blueberries.

Esophageal problems

This refers to the varicose veins or tears of the esophagus that cause severe blood loss.

Cancer

Bloody stool is one of the symptoms of cancer in the digestive tract. Anal cancer and colon cancer are two kinds that can cause bloody stool which can be unnoticeable to the naked eye.

Inflammatory bowel disease

It’s an autoimmune disease that causes bowel inflammation. IBD involves two types – ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD can be treated with steroids, immune modifying drugs, and surgery.

Infection

Microbes such as campylobacter jejuni salmonella, clostridium difficile and Escherichia coli can cause bloody diarrhea. Symptoms include fever and abdominal pain.

Ischemic colitis

This condition affects old people and could be chronic and acute. It occurs when there’s inadequate blood flow to the colon. Its symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and urge to defecation and abdominal pain. 

Most ischemic colitis is temporary and they heal on their own. In severe situations, it will need hospitalization, bowel rest, antibiotics, and intravenous fluids. Around 20 % of people will need surgery. The prognosis for those with surgery is grim and has a mortality rate of 65%.

Meckel’s diverticulum

The gastric lining occurs in the wrong location in the gastrointestinal tract. Gastric acid from the lining erodes the tissue and leads to hemorrhage. It’s rare but it’s the common cause of GI bleeding.  Possible surgical treatment for those who have symptoms.

Food poisoning

Foodborne microbes can cause blood in stools. Testing a stool sample can identify what bacteria caused it.

Hemorrhoids

They are inflamed blood vessels in the anus or rectum that can be painful, itchy, and bleedy. This can manifest as a red coating in the stool after defecating.

Treatments can include increased fiber diet and surgery for severe cases.

Peptic ulcers

It’s an open sore of the duodenum or stomach lining in the small intestine upper end. Most peptic ulcers are caused by long term use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori can also cause peptic ulcers.

Polyps

Polyps are projections in the intestinal tract. It comprises many types depending on the presentation and histology. Adenomatous polyps are common and it affects 25% adults aged 50 and above. If it gets worse, adenomatous polyps can develop into colorectal cancer.

Medical advances lead to methods such as surgical removing and resecting nonmetastatic adenomatous polyps. Chemotherapy can be used to limit polyps from spreading. It’s treatable when detected early. Early regular screening that uses sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and others is used to diagnose polyps.

Trauma

This includes damage from foreign object insertion and gunshot wounds. 

What Are The Tests

Depending on your condition, a doctor may recommend:

  • Colonoscopy – The doctor will use this procedure if the entire colon is needed for inspection. It involves inserting a scope to view the rectum and take colon samples. The doctor may require you to take a special diet, enema, and laxative as this procedure needs an empty colon.
  • Digital Rectal Examination – A doctor will use a latex glove and insert the lubricated finger up to the rectum to feel for signs of abnormalities and growths.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – This aims to check the colon and take outgrowths. It uses a lighted tube that is inserted into the anus. Before this procedure is done, patients have to receive a laxative or enema.
  • Fecal occult blood test – This checks for blood in the stool. If blood is confirmed, extra tests will be used to know the bleeding source.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)– is a method while a small bending endoscope is entered through the mouth and pushed through the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum

The Bottom Line

If you see blood in your stool, go to a physician as soon as possible to know the underlying causes. The bloody stool may or might not be life-threatening. The best defense is to check your condition to a health professional.

Diagnosis Of Blood In Stools

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