Seeing bright red blood in the toilet is bound to set off alarm bells. And it should. Though most causes of blood in stool isn't a serious health issue, it's not a symptom to ignore.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Town and Country, Missouri, our rectal disorder specialist, Dr. Betsy Clemens, understands the anxiety from bloody stool and the reluctance many people have about getting it checked out.
This month's blog will tell you about blood in your stool, possible causes, and why you must take it seriously.
Causes of blood in stool
Blood in your stool means bleeding somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract — esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or large intestine. The cause of your bleeding may originate in any of these organs.
Some of the more common causes usually involve the large intestine or rectum, such as:
Ulcerations in the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine may also cause rectal bleeding.
Blood in the stool is also a sign of bowel cancer, including colorectal and stomach cancer.
Though all these potential causes require medical care, you must take your bloody bowel movements seriously because they may mean cancer. Though, in most cases, the cause is less serious.
What bloody stool looks like
The appearance of blood in your stool can help us determine the location of the bleeding. Blood in the stool may appear bright red, maroon, or black.
Bright red bloody stool
If the blood you see in your stool is bright red, then the source of the bleeding is close to the exit, involving the rectum or the lower part of the large intestine.
Hemorrhoids and anal fissures cause bright red bloody stool. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of bleeding during bowel movements. However, you can also have bright red blood from ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel disease) or colorectal cancer.
Maroon-colored stool means the bleeding is happening in the small intestine or the upper part of the large intestine.
The black, tarry stool is a sign of bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, or upper part of the small intestine. The black coloring is a sign the blood has been digested.
Getting things checked out
No matter the appearance of your bloody poop, you need to schedule an appointment to rule out any serious gastrointestinal problems. We specialize in rectal disorders and provide professional and compassionate evaluations to find the source of the bleeding.
We ask about symptoms, medical history, and diet and perform a physical exam. We may also do a rectal exam and run lab work to check for anemia. If we don’t see hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, we make a referral to a gastroenterologist who can perform an endoscopy procedure.
In most cases, blood in your stool isn’t a serious issue, but you need to get it checked out by a medical professional to know for sure. Call our office at 314-669-2758 to schedule a consultation with our expert to get the answers you need.