blood in stool

Blood in Stool: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Blood in stool or hematochezia can make you feel distressed. When you see blood in the bowel or in tissue while wiping after a bowel movement, it can make you frightened. Several thoughts cross your mind. It may indicate some serious issue that requires immediate medical attention. Instead of ignoring the problem, you need to see a doctor to uncover the actual cause of the problem. With proper medical assistance, you can deal with the problem in a better manner.

About Blood In Stool

You see blood due to some problem in your rectum. The rectum is the structure at the end portion of your large bowel. It ends before a person’s anus. People suffer bleeding from the area. In most of the cases, it is mild. But, some cases of hematochezia are serious and life-threatening. You need to get it checked with your doctor to uncover the seriousness of the underlying issue. Problems anywhere in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract can lead to bleeding or you see blood in the stool. So, contact your doctor if your loved ones complain about the problem.

Signs Of Blood In Stool

Signs Of Blood In Stool Based on the underlying condition, you can suffer from other signs and symptoms of hematochezia like:

  • Bright red present on or in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Pain in rectum
  • Change in feces color (maroon, red, and black)
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Stool tests positive for occult blood loss (suggested when blood is present but not visible in feces)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat, palpitations, fainting

Emergency Medical Care For Blood In Stool

Most people have confusion regarding when to contact the doctor. When you see blood in the stool along with one or more symptoms, then contact your doctor immediately:

  • Stomach swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Profuse bleeding from rectal region
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Altered bowel habits
  • Severe or prolonged diarrhea
  • Inability to have a bowel movement
  • Involuntary leakage of stools
  • Pencil-sized feces

Seek medical attention immediately without any delay when you see the following signs like:

  • Maroon or black stools
  • Rectal pain or trauma
  • Lose large volume of blood
  • Bruising or bleeding in other areas of the body
  • Feve

People who take blood thinners for other underlying medical problem can suffer from other signs like

  • Fainting spells
  • Dizziness
  • Passing out
  • Weakness
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing

Get immediate medical assistance to avoid any serious complications that can affect your quality or quantity of life.

Causes of Blood In Stool

When you observe hematochezia, it means you suffer from bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract. Some people see the signs after a bowel movement. But, the severity of the problem remains unclear. A fecal occult test can only detect the amount of blood in the stool. The blood can appear black and tarry when you suffer from bleeding happening higher up in your digestive tract. The underlying causes can only have a link to how the blood appears. The possible causes include:

Diverticular Disease

Diverticular

Diverticula refers to the small pouch formed on the lining of your bowel. These pouches project from the colon wall. The size of the pouches ranges from small to large. In most cases, they cause no problem. But, the larger ones form due to increased pressure on your intestinal walls due to liquid, waste or gas. The weakened spot can strain during difficult bowel movements like constipation. Inflammation, infection or injury of diverticula can lead to bleeding.

Anal Fissure

It is the small cut or tears developing in the anal canal (in the lining of the lower rectum). The tear in the tissue lining appears similar to paper cut or chapped lips. It can trigger pain during a bowel movement. While it does not cause a serious problem, passing a large, hard stool can result in severe pain.

Colitis

Colitis

It is the condition caused due to inflammation of the colon. The digestive disease occurs due to inflammation or infection of the inner lining of your colon. It leads to a loss of blood supply in the colon and triggers different signs.

Angiodysplasia

It refers to the small vascular defect of your gut. It leads to fragile and abnormal blood vessels susceptible to bleeding.

Peptic Ulcers

Peptic Ulcers

Hematochezia occurs due to developing an open sore in the lining of the stomach or the upper end of your small intestine (duodenum). In most cases sore occur due to infection caused by a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Others develop the condition due to using high doses of anti-inflammatory medications like:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen

Polyps/Cancer

Polyps refer to benign growths, which grow and cause hematochezia. These benign growths can become cancerous over time. So, polyps can lead to developing colorectal cancer. It is a dangerous disease, causing more deaths around the world. When you suffer from the colon or rectal cancer, the bleeding remains invisible to the naked eye.

Esophageal Problems

Developing varicose veins of the esophagus can result in blood loss. Tears developing in the esophagus also results in the hematochezia.

Rectal Bleeding in Children

Take rectal bleeding in small children seriously. Some children may require admission to the hospital and evaluation by a surgeon.

Intussusception

It is the condition occurring in children when the bowel folds in itself. In most cases, intussusception is the common cause of intestinal obstruction as well as rectal bleeding. It affects children up to three years of age. The cases occur in children within the first year of a child’s life. When a child suffers from the problem, three main symptoms appear. So, parents need to consult their pediatrician to detect the problem when the child shows the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Intermittent abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from rectum looking lie currant jelly

But, all children suffering the problem may not show the signs. Children who suffer from the problem need to stay in the hospital for further tests. They also need to undergo imaging tests and invasive procedures like surgery to correct the problem.

Meckel’s Diverticulum

It is a rare but common congenital defect affecting children. The congenital defect affecting the gastrointestinal tract causes a bulge or outpouching in the small intestine’s lower part. It develops because of the leftover umbilical cord or present at the birth of the child. Due to the rare condition, the gastric lining combines into the child’s GI tract. But, it does not incorporate in the stomach. So, gastric acid secreted from the lining results in the erosion of the tissue. It leads to ulceration and bleeding. In children and young adults, it is the most common cause of GI bleeding.

Blood In Stool During Pregnancy

Pregnant women can see rectal bleeding in the second or third trimesters. It is because they develop hemorrhoids due to the increased pressure on the pelvic area of blood vessels. Carrying the baby can increase the pressure. Due to hormonal imbalance, pregnant women can suffer constipation and experience strain during bowel movements. It can increase the pressure on the blood vessels, which causes the exacerbation of the hemorrhoids. It is better to see a gynecologist to detect the presence of hemorrhoids and get proper medical assistance to avoid any discomfort.

Blood In Stool Diagnosis

When you see bleeding from the rectal region or in the feces, then consult a doctor immediately. You need to get assistance from the doctor to ensure it is not a serious condition. Ignoring the signs can lead to severe complications. The doctor suggests the following for detecting the actual reason for the problem:

Physical Examination

The doctor performs a physical assessment to check the symptoms you suffer from. You must provide information regarding your medical history. It is also essential to provide details regarding the appearance of the stool. It will help your doctor detect the exact cause of the problem like:

  • Observing a black, tarry stool indicates a problem in the upper part of your digestive system or ulcer
  • Maroon-color or bright red blood in the feces indicates problems like diverticulitis or hemorrhoids that affects the lower part of the digestive tract.

You need other tests to conclusively diagnose the problem. So, your doctor suggests other tests to detect the issue conclusively.

Nasogastric Lavage

It is the logical procedure for assessing the patient to detect any issues with your upper GI. It is usually suggested for acute upper GI bleeding. But, the test can help the doctor whether you suffer from bleeding in the upper or the lower digestive tract. During the procedure, a tube is inserted into the stomach to remove the contents. The tube is lowered into your stomach through the nose. If the stomach has no evidence of bleeding, then it is either due to the stopping of the bleeding or you suffer from the issue in the lower digestive tract.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

EGD refers to the endoscopic procedure suggested by the doctor. The diagnostic test allows the doctor to examine the stomach, esophagus and the part of your small intestine (duodenum). It is an outpatient procedure allowing the doctor to insert an endoscope. It is the flexible tube inserted through the mouth. Since the tube has a small camera at the other end, it takes images of mouth, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum as it passes through them. It helps locate the source of bleeding. During the procedure, your doctor can collect a small tissue sample for detection. It is examined under the microscope to check abnormal cells. The procedure takes only half an hour to an hour to complete and you can go back home on the same day.

 Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy refers to the procedure suggested by the doctor to evaluate the inside of your entire colon. The specialist doctor like a gastroenterologist uses a colonoscope, the flexible viewing tube into the anus. It is slowly advanced through the rectum as well as the entire colon under direct vision to get comprehensive images. Since the flexible tube can frequently reach the pasts of your small intestine, it can evaluate the causes of rectal as well as occult bleeding.

Enteroscopy

Enteroscopy is the test used by the doctors to examine the small bowel or small intestine. The doctor recommends the test to detect any disease of the small intestine that can cause blood to appear in feces. It is a procedure similar to colonoscopy and EGD. With capsule enteroscopy, you need to swallow a capsule with a tiny camera. Swallowing it will transmit the images inside your body to a video monitor. It offers detailed images as it passes through your digestive tract.

Barium X-ray

It is a diagnostic procedure uses barium, a contrast material to make your digestive tract visible on x-ray. You can either swallow barium or insert it into the rectum. When you swallow, barium coats the upper GI tract’s inside walls. So, the size, shape, and function of the organs become visible on the x-ray. Barium is used for the diagnostic studies of your GI tract and detects any issue causing bleeding.

Radionuclide Scanning

If your doctor suspects gastrointestinal bleeding, then your doctor suggests radionuclide scanning. It can detect the disorder in your digestive tract causing blood to appear in your stool or vomit. In most cases, the presence of blood goes undetected due to the tarry or black appearance of the stools. Since the bleeding in the digestive tract can cause severe complications, the doctor suggests the test. It involves injecting radioactive material in small amounts into the vein. Then, a special camera is used to view the images of blood flow in your digestive tract. So, your doctor can detect the exact location where bleeding is happening.

Angiography

It is the procedure used to detect bleeding from blood vessels that can happen due to inflammatory bowel disease or after undergoing some invasive procedure in the abdominal region. The procedure involves the doctor injecting a special dye. It is injected into the vein making the blood vessels visible on the CT (Computerized Tomography) or X-ray. It is the procedure used to detect bleeding as the dye tends to leak out of the blood vessels where you bleed.

Laparotomy

It is the invasive diagnostic technique used by the doctor when other tests fail to find the exact cause of the bleeding. The doctor uses the procedure to open and examine your abdomen in detail.

Other Lab Tests

Healthcare provider also suggests tests for detecting the exact cause of bleeding, leading to the presence of blood in the fecal material. The following tests can detect:

  • Anemia
  • Clotting problems
  • Presence of H. pylori infection

Blood in Stool Treatments

Based on the doctor’s diagnosis, a treatment plan is developed. It is important to address the underlying cause of hematochezia. For simple causes, your doctor suggests home treatment options. You just need to tweak your diet and make some lifestyle changes to get relief from hematochezia. So, steps are suggested to relieve the distress caused due to such simple issues.

Stop Acute Bleeding

When you suffer from acute bleeding due, then the primary action is to stop it to avoid complications due to blood loss. The doctor uses several techniques to stop bleeding. Using endoscopy, the doctor tries to inject the site of the bleeding. A laser or electric current is also used to treat the bleeding site. Another technique is to apply a clip or band to close the bleeding vessel. When endoscopy fails to control bleeding, your doctor opts for angiography to control bleeding by injecting medication into the blood vessels.

Medication For Managing Blood In Stool

For severe bleeding, the treatment focuses on stopping it. But, it is also important to address the cause of the problem to prevent it from returning. The medication suggested by the doctor depends on the underlying cause of the problem. Common medication suggested are:

  • Antibiotics to treat a condition caused due to H. pylori
  • Antacids to suppress acid in your stomach
  • Anti-inflammatory drug to treat issues like colitis

Invasive Procedures

Polyps, benign growths need immediate removal. So, you need to undergo surgery to remove polyps. Surgery is also necessary to remove parts of the colon damaged due to the following:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colon/Rectal Cancer
  • Diverticulitis

Home Remedies For Blood In Stool

If you have minimal bleeding from the rectum, such as you only see a small blood streak on the toilet tissue, then you only suffer from a simple issue. After diagnosis, your doctor detects any simple problem behind the condition like rectal fissure or hemorrhoids, then you can take some steps at home to reduce the distress caused by the condition. Remember, you need to see a doctor evaluate the condition properly and get treatment for the underlying issue. But, the home remedies can ease the distress caused by the condition.

Over-The-Counter Options

If your doctor permits, then you can use hydrocortisone suppositories to manage distress caused due to hemorrhoids. It can reduce itching, swelling, bloody diarrhea, and bleeding caused by the condition.  Hydrocortisone is also available in ointment form. It is easy to get the product without a prescription. Using it directly in the anus and rectum can reduce inflammation or swelling. But, see a doctor immediately if your symptoms do not improve within a week of using the product. People above forty years need to maintain caution and get immediate medical help when symptoms fail to improve.

Hydrate To Avoid Blood In Stool

Constipation can lead to strain in the bowel movement. Due to excessive strain, you can see a bright smear of blood in the stool or on the toilet paper. So, try to drink at least eight to ten glasses of water to keep your body hydrated. It will also loosen your stools.

Avoid Anal Itching

The excess moisture or lack of cleaning around the anus can trigger anal itching, also known as pruritus ani. It is a bothersome problem causing intense burning or itching sensation around the rectal opening. The problem occurs after a bowel movement or at night. The irresistible urge to scratch and the presence of blood in feces are the other symptoms associated with the condition. So, keep the skin around the anus clean by bathing or showering.

Reduce Bowel Movement Strain

You need to decrease the strain with bowel movements to avoid bleeding. To reduce the risk, you need to increase the intake of fiber in your diet. So, choose vegetables and fruits that will help you get more fiber. Try including fruits like apples, bananas, berries, dark-colored vegetables, etc.

Avoid Pressure On Rectum

Sitting on the toilet for a long time can result in your feces having blood. It is because sitting on the toilet relaxes your anus. So, it allows the veins surrounding the region to fill with blood. It increases the pressure on the veins and results in rectal bleeding. So, avoid sitting on the toilet for too long.

Apply Ice Packs

If hemorrhoid triggers the pain and bleeding, then you can place an ice pack on external hemorrhoid to manage it. Keeping an ice pack on hemorrhoids can also reduce the chances of developing a blood clot. Always place the icepack for at least fifteen to twenty minutes to get relief. While using ice, never keep it directly on your skin as it can lead to skin damage. Keep a cloth between the skin and ice to get relief.

Sitz Bath

Taking a sitz bath can offer you relief from pain and distress. Taking bath in warm water that is deep enough to cover your hips as well as buttocks helps relieve discomfort. It eases pain, itching, and discomfort triggered due to hemorrhoids.

Avoid Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can result in dehydration. Therefore, try to avoid dehydration by avoiding alcoholic beverages that can worsen constipation.

Conclusion

You can see blood in the stool due to many reasons. While some of them are harmless, others can cause serious issues. It is better to get medical assistance to detect if simple fissure or hemorrhoids trigger the condition or you need immediate medical intervention to avoid complications due to deadly diseases like cancer. It is important to give importance to the problem and see a physician. While it is scary to see blood in the toilet bowl or on tissue, some tend to ignore it. But, problems like colorectal cancer can trigger the issue. Such a serious health problem is the cause of death in many people. So, get the necessary help as early as possible.

View Article Sources
  • https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/blood-in-stool
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/blood_in_the_stool_rectal_bleeding/article.htm
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/causes-of-bloody-stool-1124078

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