Having blood in your stool can be quite a scary experience. Fortunately, most cases aren’t life-threatening.
This does not mean all is well. In fact, it is never normal and sometimes, it is an emergency. It is very vital to get yourself checked by a doctor or visiting a health facility near you.
What Causes It?
It typically means there is ongoing bleeding somewhere in the digestive system.
Diverticulosis is the presence of multiple small pouches on the wall of the colon. They tend to occur more in older people, affecting about 50% of all people above 60 years.
While they usually exist without causing any symptoms, they can occasionally become infected, causing fevers and abdominal pain. A high fiber diet is often helpful in combating it.
Hemorrhoids are a common cause of bloody stools, especially seen when you wipe.
They are a cushion of tissue located around the anus that has a very good blood supply. While they are normally present in everyone, sometimes they can enlarge and cause rectal bleeding, especially when pressured by hard poop.
They could be painful or painless, cause itching and the feeling of swelling around the anus when taking a poo. Doctors often treat hemorrhoids by recommending a high-fiber diet and stool softeners. In some cases, surgical procedures are performed to treat them.
3. Anal fissures
Anal fissures are simply tears or cracks in the lining of the anus.
The main symptom associated with anal fissures is painful poop. Sometimes, anal fissures could also bleed.
Anal fissures can make your butt hurt when you poop. Because of this, people who have these tears are often scared to pass stools, making them more likely to be constipated. Ironically, anal fissures are often caused by constipation- when you don’t poop regularly.
Just as with hemorrhoids, anal fissures can be cared for by taking a high-fiber diet and by using stool softeners.
Most times, they heal within a few weeks. If medical treatment does not provide relief, a surgical procedure called ‘anal sphincterotomy’ is usually recommended.
4. Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can affect any part of the digestive system, causing inflammatory patches.
It can cause symptoms like poor appetite, diarrhea, mucus in stool and blood-stained poop.
5. Ulcerative Colitis
Just like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis particularly affects the large intestines. The inflammation doesn’t appear in patches but in a continuous pattern.
It can also cause abdominal pain.
6. Intestinal Infections
Intestinal infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are usually gotten from eating contaminated food or drinking water that isn’t clean enough.
Infections can cause erosion of the lining of parts of the intestines.
7. Trauma and Foreign Bodies
Trauma to the abdomen and the presence of foreign bodies in the digestive system can cause tears, organ damage and bloody stools.
Polyps are noncancerous outgrowths on the lining of the colon. They are usually without symptoms and can be found on routine colon examinations.
Sometimes they can bleed and cause streaks of blood in poop. Some polyps also have the potential to become cancerous.
9. Colorectal Cancer
This is cancer affecting the colon (large intestine) and the rectum (lower part of the digestive system before the anus).
It is the third most common cause of cancer, after lung and breast cancer. If you were pooping blood recently, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have colorectal cancer. There are many other reasons why this can happen.
So don’t panic, instead, you should go see a doctor or visit a healthcare facility.
It is always important to report it to a doctor.
Depending on the amount of blood loss and the associated symptoms, it can be treated as an emergency.
When you report it to a doctor, the doctor would try to ascertain why exactly it happened.
You will be asked questions like when it started, an estimate of the quantity and if there were any associated symptoms like anal pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, and fainting.
You will then be examined. The doctor would try to find out how much blood was lost and may examine your anus. Some tests may be requested to help achieve a diagnosis or to evaluate the severity of the problem. These could be:
- Blood tests
- Stool test
- Endoscopy (The use of devices that help the doctor have a visual look inside the digestive system)
The definitive treatment is dependent on its cause. Sometimes, medications may be sufficient to treat it, other times surgery may be a better option. It can also warrant hospital admissions.
Having blood in your stool is never normal. If you notice blood in your stools, you should always check with your doctor to know its cause and get treatment.
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