Whether you discover blood in your stool after having a bowel movement or from a stool test, the symptom may leave you with fear and anxiety. Though you should never ignore bloody stools, it’s helpful to know that, in most cases, the cause isn’t a serious health issue.
Here at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center, our board-certified family physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, specializes in anorectal disorders, including diagnosing and treating conditions that cause blood in stool.
The blood in your stool could mean many things. We want to share some of the most common causes.
What blood in your stool may mean
In general germs, having blood in your stool means there’s bleeding somewhere along your digestive tract. What the blood in your stool looks like provides information about where the bleeding may be happening.
The appearance of bright-red blood or maroon-colored stool usually means bleeding is occuring in the lower portion of your digestive tract. This type of bleeding may mean you have:
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that develop in the rectum or anus. It’s not uncommon for these blood vessels to bleed during a bowel movement, creating bright, red streaks of blood in the toilet bowl.
The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy says hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding in the United States.
An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the anal tissue. Like hemorrhoids, anal fissures may bleed during a bowel movement.
With diverticular disease, you develop small pouches, or sacs, along the wall of the large intestine. When perforated, the pouches may cause blood in your stool.
Colon polyps are benign growths found along the lining of the large intestine. Polyps rarely cause symptoms. However, colon polyps located in the lower part of your large intestine may cause minor rectal bleeding. More importantly, colon polyps are a risk factor for colon cancer.
If your stools are black or tarry, that may mean the bleeding is occurring further up in your digestive tract. Causes may include:
Peptic ulcers are open sores in your stomach lining or in the first portion of your small intestine, the duodenum.
There are many conditions that cause bleeding in the esophagus, resulting in blood in your stool, such as esophageal varices or esophagitis.
Don’t ignore your bloody stools
Though the blood in your stool may be from a minor medical condition, you shouldn’t ignore the symptom. As noted, we specialize in anorectal diseases and can determine the underlying cause of your bloody stools.
Getting the right diagnosis not only eases your anxiety, but also ensures you get the right treatment and care.
Treating blood in stool
Treatment for your bloody stools depends on the cause. For hemorrhoids and anal fissures, we provide comprehensive care. We create individualized treatment plans based on the severity of your symptoms and the frequency of occurrence.
Treatment may include:
- Diet modification
- Lifestyle changes
- Stool softeners
- Sitz baths
- Infrared coagulation (IRC) for internal hemorrhoids
In some cases, we recommend surgical intervention to treat hemorrhoids or anal fissures when other medical treatments fail to alleviate symptoms and bleeding.
Blood in your stool could mean many things, and it’s something you should have checked out. Contact our office by calling 636-228-3186, or by scheduling an appointment online today. We can provide the answers you need.