Why You Should Never Ignore Blood in Your Stool

Don't ignore blood in your stool.

Hemorrhoids, irritation following a bout of diarrhea, or constipation can cause blood in your stool. Blood with a bowel movement can also signal a more serious condition that requires medical attention. It only seems to make sense, then, that you see a physician if you’ve noticed blood in your stool.

The well-respected and highly skilled physicians at GastroMed specialize in gastroenterology, which includes diagnosing and treating conditions that cause blood in your stool. These caring and talented medical experts offer their insight regarding what conditions can cause blood in your stool and why you should not ignore the symptoms.

What conditions can cause blood in my stool?

Simply put, blood in your stools means there’s bleeding somewhere in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which travels from your mouth through your stomach to your anus.

Likely causes of blood in stools include hemorrhoids, anal irritation from hard stools, a small tear in the anal region (anal fissure), and other essentially benign (noncancerous) conditions that typically respond very well to treatment.

But many other conditions can also cause rectal bleeding and may lead to serious medical complications. These include:

Rectal bleeding may also indicate you’re having problems with small growths (polyps) on the lining of your intestines. These polyps can grow and bleed and sometimes evolve into colorectal cancer.

In order to design an appropriate care plan that offers the best possible outcome, we must first identify what is causing blood in your stool.

How can you tell what’s causing blood in my stool?

Identifying the underlying issue that’s causing the bleeding starts with an exam and detailed discussion of your symptoms, including the characteristics of the blood you’ve noticed.

Bright red blood that coats your stool and drips into the toilet bowl, for instance, may indicate bleeding from hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. Maroon-colored stools may be related to diverticulitis. Dark, tarry stools are sometimes caused by bleeding ulcers or other problems in your upper digestive tract.

Depending on the nature of your symptoms, we may recommend diagnostic studies such as:

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

For this study, often referred to as an “upper endoscopy,” we insert a flexible tube with a small camera on the end (endoscope) through your mouth and down your esophagus to your stomach and duodenum.

The camera provides a real-time look at the lining of your upper GI tract and helps us identify the source of your bleeding. We can also collect small tissue samples during the endoscopy that we typically investigate further via biopsy for cancerous changes and other concerning issues.

Colonoscopy  

As with an upper endoscopy, this study utilizes a small camera and a flexible tube. In a colonoscopy, it’s inserted through your rectum and used to investigate the colon. It’s an invaluable cancer screening tool and also offers us the ability to remove polyps before they become cancerous and/or repair bleeding sites during the study.

You can expect to be sedated during a colonoscopy or EGD, which helps keep you relaxed during the study that is not necessarily painful but admittedly uncomfortable due to the nature of the exam.

Other studies we may recommend include stool studies to identify occult (hidden) blood and/or X-rays using a contrast material (barium) to get a closer look at how your digestive system is functioning.

Regardless of the cause, early diagnosis and early treatment are often the best remedy for rectal bleeding. Schedule an appointment today at GastroMed for answers regarding blood in your stools.



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