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When Should I See an Expert About Blood in My Stool?

When Should I See an Expert About Blood in My Stool?

So, you’ve noticed a concerning change during your bathroom visits, and the question lingering in your mind is, “When should I see an expert about blood in my stool?” 

We get it. Blood in stool is sensitive, and you may feel uncomfortable discussing it with family and friends. But it’s not a symptom you should blow off.

At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Town and Country, Missouri, our family medicine physician and anorectal disorder specialist, Dr. Betsy Clemens, wants you to know when to see an expert if you have blood in your stool.

What blood in stool means

Blood in stool means you have bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. What the blood looks like can help determine the source and narrow down the possible cause of your bleeding.

Bright red blood

If the blood in your stool looks fresh, then the bleeding is likely occurring near the exit, like the lower part of the large intestine, rectum, or anus. 

If you have hemorrhoids, you may have bright red blobs of blood on your stool or see red smears on your toilet paper after wiping. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of blood in stool. 

However, the blood may also come from an anal fissure, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or colon cancer. Though probably the least common cause of bloody stool, colon cancer is certainly the most concerning, which is why you don’t want to ignore this symptom.

Dark red blood

Dark red or maroon blood indicates that the bleeding is coming from the lower part of the small intestine or the upper part of the large intestine. This type of bleeding may occur if you have IBD, ulceration, or intestinal cancer. 

Black stool

If your stool is black or tarry, you see digested blood coming from the stomach, first part, or the small intestine. Stool this color may mean you have a stomach ulcer, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or gastrointestinal cancer.

When to seek expert help

Blood in your stool isn’t a symptom to ignore. Though usually harmless, the bleeding is a sign of life-threatening health conditions like cancer and needs an expert evaluation to confirm the exact cause.

You should also seek expert help if the bleeding is severe or lasts longer than a few days. Ongoing gastrointestinal bleeding may lead to anemia and other health problems like fatigue and infections.

We also recommend seeking expert help if you have other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or a fever. 

What happens next

We thoroughly evaluate when you come in to see us about blood in your stool. Like you, we want to find the source of your bleeding so you get the right treatment plan.

We ask about the color and frequency of the bleeding and other symptoms you’re experiencing. We perform a physical exam and run lab work to check for anemia. If we suspect your condition is from an anorectal disorder, we also perform a rectal exam.

Treatment for blood in stool depends on the cause. We provide expert care for hemorrhoids and anal fissures and make referrals to gastroenterologists if we think your bleeding is occurring in other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

You should see an expert about blood in your stool right away. Talking to an expert helps you stay in control of your health. 

We understand the delicate nature of bloody stools and provide compassionate care. Call our office at 314-669-2758 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Clemens.

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