The sight of blood is cause for concern under normal circumstances, but when it shows up in unlikely places, like your stool, you might be especially alarmed. It may help you to know up front that the presence of blood in stool isn’t all that uncommon. And the conditions that can lead to blood showing up in your stool range from superficial and benign to more serious problems.
In short, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get checked out by a doctor who specializes in this area of medicine.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center, Dr. Betsy Clemens and our team specialize in anorectal disorders, and we routinely help our patients in the Creve Coeur, Missouri, area deal with unwelcome developments like bloody stool.
To give you an idea of the potential reasons for blood in your stool and how we diagnose them, we’ve pulled together a brief look at the problem.
A matter of color
One of the first things we ask about (or examine) is the color of the blood in your stool. If your stool features bright red blood that rests on the surface of your stool, the odds are good that you’re dealing with one of the following:
If you have hemorrhoids, they may burst or bleed when you pass stool.
If you have an anal fissure, which is a tear in the tissues around your anus, this can lead to blood gathering on your stool as it passes through.
In both of these cases, the presence of blood in your stool isn’t necessarily cause for alarm since the underlying causes are more surface concerns, which is why the blood is still bright red.
If the blood is darker in color and mixed in with your stool, this typically means that the source of the blood is higher up in your gastrointestinal tract and it could point toward conditions like diverticulitis, colitis, or peptic ulcers.
In less common cases, blood in your stool could be a sign of colorectal cancer.
Diagnosing the blood in your stool
Because of the wide range of conditions that can lead to blood in your stool, we recommend that you come in for a complete analysis. By identifying your problem right away, we can get you the treatment you need and, in many cases, bring you peace of mind.
Our analysis starts with a physical examination to determine where the problem may lie, which dictates how we proceed. If we determine straight away that the problem stems from hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, we work quickly to resolve these issues.
If these exterior issues aren’t the source of your bloody stool, we turn to more advanced diagnostic tools, including:
- An esophagogastroduodenoscopy to check your upper digestive tract
- A colonoscopy to check your lower digestive tract
- A fecal occult blood test to check for blood you may not see
- A barium X-ray, which gives us a picture of your entire digestive tract
These tools shed critical light on the presence of blood in your stool by helping us confirm, or rule out, the potential problems we listed above. And once we zero in on the root cause for the presence of blood in your stool, we can get you started on an appropriate treatment plan.
If you’re noticing blood in your stool, please give us a call at 636-228-3136 or you can use this form to request a call back.