What Are The Causes Of Bloody Stool? By Jim McDonald
Finding blood in your stool can be an alarming experience.
Finding blood in your stool can be an alarming experience. Regardless of how much you know about health care, everybody knows that bloody stool is simply not right. The appearance of bloody stool causes a whole range of possibilities to race through your mind, none of them good. What are the causes of bloody stool? What are the most likely possibilities and what should you do about it?
In very general terms, bloody stool means that there's some sort of injury or disorder located somewhere in your digestive tract. Unfortunately, that doesn't narrow things down very much, because your digestive tract can refer to almost any location between your mouth and your anus. One of the ways that you and your doctor can start to zero in on the likely location of the problem is by the color of the blood.
As a rule, the closer the source of bleeding is to the anus, the brighter red the blood will be. This is because the bacteria in your digestive system works to break down the blood as it passes through. So the longer blood stays in your digestive tract, the darker it will become. The color of the bloody stool can range from bright red through maroon and black, all the way to occult (or hidden).
There is a great deal of emphasis on the color because this is how your doctor will begin to diagnose the causes of bloody stool. If the bloody stool is bright red, then there's a good chance the blood was essentially added on the way out by hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Obviously, although these causes of bloody stool can be uncomfortable, they are relatively minor and easily treated. You might want to try a natural colon cleanse. Regular cleansing can practically eliminate constipation that lead to hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Even a one-time colon cleanse can help.
The causes of bloody stool that is more maroon in color lie farther up the digestive tract. If you have intestinal polyps, these may sometimes bleed and cause maroon-colored stool. The most serious possibility is that some of these polyps have begun to develop into colon cancer. That's why you should never delay contacting your doctor if you're concerned about the causes of bloody stool. Early action could conceivably save your life. Bloody stool that is maroon in color could also be caused by inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulosis. However, most doctors agree that diverticulosis causes significant bleeding and is therefore relatively easy to diagnose.
Some people have black and tarry stools with an especially foul odor. If the blood in your stool has turned black, that means it has spent a longer time passing through your digestive tract. The causes of bloody stool that is black and tarry (or sticky) may lie not in your colon, but rather in your stomach or small intestines. The blood has been turned black by the action of bacteria in your system. Doctors refer to black bloody stool as 'melena.'
There is a possibility that the appearance of your stool was changed by something in your diet. Some foods, supplements and medicines have a tendency to turn your stool black. Licorice, iron pills, Pepto-Bismol and blueberries can result in black-colored stools. Beets and tomatoes, on the other hand, have a tendency to turn your stools reddish on some occasions. However, this doesn't occur all the time and not everyone experiences this symptom. Most of the time when you see red, you should assume it's blood and act accordingly.
Although not all of the causes of bloody stool are serious, there's only one safe course of action if you spot bloody stool in your toilet. See a doctor. There's a good chance that the causes of bloody stool are relatively minor and easily treated. However, you should allow a health professional to make that determination. Self-diagnosis is not recommended, especially when there could be more serious causes of bloody stool. Colon cancer causes the second highest number of cancer deaths in the United States, but up to 90 percent of cases could be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Calling your doctor and discussing the color of your stool is not something that you would normally look forward to doing. However, don't let embarrassment keep you from doing the right thing. Don't take chances with your health.
Bleeding in the GI tract is very common. It should not be ignored because of its potential serious causes and life threatening results. Understanding basic terms and definitions used in GI bleeding will make it easier for you to recognize GI bleeding in yourself or a family member, communicate more clearly to your doctor about your symptoms, and search more effectively and accurately for information. You will also be a more educated and effective advocate for yourself so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated accurately and in a timely manner.