No doctor takes bright red blood in the stool at its face value. It is one symptom that could mean a lot of things. You can’t say that it means one particular thing until you have checked for other symptoms. Several conditions could cause bloody stool. Usually, the reason why your stool would contain blood is that a part of your digestive tract is bleeding. Otherwise, there is no way that blood can mix with your stool. Sometimes though, it is a false alarm from eating foods that have red pigments or coloring. Such foods include beets, Hawaiian punch, Kool-Aid, and red gelatin.
Blood in the stool does not always appear right red. Sometimes, it appears maroon or even black. But then, the color makes no much difference. You may, In fact, not visibly see blood in your stool until a lab test confirms it. Whatever be the case, if there is blood in your stool, then you probably are bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract between your mouth and anus. If the blood takes on a black or tar-like color, it means the bleeding is from the upper gastrointestinal tract. But if it is bright red or maroon, then it is coming from your lower gastrointestinal tract.
The Easy-To-Fix Causes of Bloody Stool
1. Anal Fissure
When an infant has a bloody stool, the first suspicion should be an anal fissure. It occurs quite commonly in infants. However, adults sometimes have it too. It simply means that there is a tear somewhere in your anus.
Anal fissures usually occur as a complication of constipation. You could also get an anal fissure when you are trying to pass a large, hard stool. The hard stool may cause a crack in your anus. The crack can usually be seen when you stretch your anal skin.
This is not so much of a serious condition because anal fissures heal by themselves most times. You may only need to take medication to control pain if there is any. You may use stool softeners or apply petroleum jelly to ease any form of discomfort or pain.
Hemorrhoids refer to blood vessels that swell and extend from your anus. They have the typical look of a cushion. These swellings usually cause a lot of discomforts. They are painful and itchy. They also bleed bright red blood into your stool.
The blood that stains your stool is you have a hemorrhoid is coming directly from the rich blood circulation to your rectum and anus. There are many risk factors for hemorrhoids. They include constipation, diarrhea, prolonged sitting, heavy lifting, and even pregnancy.
In most cases, hemorrhoids can be treated without surgery. Increasing the number of fiber in your meals as well as making use of salves like Preparation-H could help resolve hemorrhoids.
The severity of the bleeding would determine whether you need surgery or not. The location of hemorrhoids (whether it is external or internal) is another factor that determines whether or not a person needs surgery.
The malformation of blood vessels in the gut may predispose a person to bleed. This is usually the case when all other possible causes have been ruled out.
Angiodysplasia sometimes happens as a complication of the von-Willebrand disease, renal disease (end-stage), and renal failure (end-stage). Treatment options for angiodysplasia include iron supplementation, hormone therapy, and intermittent blood transfusion. In serious cases, however, you may require an endoscopic obliteration.
Inflammatory Conditions That Can Cause Blood Stool
1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is not the name for one single condition. It is more like a collective term used to describe any autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation in the bowels. Two forms of IBD are very common – Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
At the very beginning, IBD is usually treated with medications, including immune-suppressants and steroids. But at the end of the day, most of the people who have IBD eventually require surgical intervention.
2. Ischemic Colitis
Nine out of every 10 incidences of ischemic colitis are usually in elderly people. This condition may start suddenly or progressively worsen over time.
The cause is usually an ischemic injury, which happens when blood circulation in the intestinal becomes inadequate. Sometimes, it is an atherosclerotic plaque or blood clot that obstructs a major blood vessel to the colon.
Other typical symptoms of ischemic colitis include diarrhea, urgency in defecation, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In acute cases, the condition may last for just a short while and resolve on its own.
But then, some cases could be so severe that they require hospitalization as well as the administration of antibiotics and intravenous fluids. Bowel rest is also very necessary in such severe cases.
About 20% of ischemic colitis cases eventually require surgical intervention. This surgery is high-risk. The mortality rate is about 65 percent.
3. Diverticular Disease
Diverticular disease has two forms: diverticulitis and diverticulosis. Both forms are quite painful and cause bloody stool.
Diverticulosis refers to the formation of diverticula (pouches) in a person’s colon. If it is only one pouch, it is called a diverticulum. This happens when a part of the colon’s inner wall becomes weakened.
The real cause of diverticulosis is somewhat a mystery. However, most people attribute it to low-fiber eating. To stop bleeding from a diverticulum, you would need an endoscopy or an abdominal surgery.
But then, diverticula may become infected and cause the other condition called diverticulitis. This requires hospital admission and the administration of antibiotics. Doctors would not proceed to perform surgery until the infection is fully cured.
Can Bloody Stool Be A Sign Of Cancer?
Colorectal cancer can indeed cause you to have bloody stool. Almost 150,000 people in the U.S are diagnosed with this form of cancer yearly. About one-third of this number eventually dies from the condition.
However, things are better now than they used to be. The mortality rate of colorectal cancer has reduced by 25 percent in the last 10 years.
The bottom-line of these is that if you see bright red blood in the stool, you should visit your doctor for proper evaluation. This is even more necessary if the bleeding lasts more than a few days.