When there is leakage of blood through the rectum, rectal bleeding can occur resulting in blood in stool. The color of the stool would change to dark red or black or maroon indicating presence of blood. Blood in stool is a valid reason for raising concerns and visiting doctor, but not all the rectal bleeding are serious. Some of the common causes of bloody stool are anal fissure, hemorrhoids, colon cancer and polyps. It can also occur when there is bleeding in the intestine or stomach.
To find out the actual cause, your doctor may request for investigations like colonoscopy, anoscopy and other imaging tests. Blood in stool can be treated after knowing the root cause. In medical terms, rectal bleeding is described as hematochezia. Often blood in stool is temporary and mild and requires no treatment. However if the episodes are persistent and severe you need to consult your doctor immediately. Severe blood loss can occur if the bleeding is recurrent and the patient may pass out.
Obviously, the bowel movement will be accompanied by few drops of blood that can change the toilet color pinkish or red. In serious cases and persistent bleeding, the person needs to be hospitalized and given immediate treatment to stop further blood loss.
Blood In Stool Causes :
There are number of causes and medical conditions which can cause blood leakage in stool. The causes range from mild (small cut in the anus) to severe (hemorrhoids) and life threatening (blood leak in the internal parts). Anal fissure is one of the common causes of blood in stool. When the bowel becomes hard it can tear off the soft tissue lining of the anus causing anal fissure. Once the skin gets torn bowel movement can cause pain with bloody leakage.
Hemorrhoids can bleed developing inflammation causing discomfort and bleeding. These are small clumps or cushion like tissues found in the anal canal. Sometimes this cushion like masses becomes enlarged and leaks blood. A mild case of hemorrhoids requires no treatment. Diverticulosis is another common cause of blood in stool. Old adults can develop diverticula (little sacks on the colon) which can become weak over years causing bleeding. Severe form of diverticulosis can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, high fever and rectal bleeding.
Polyps and colon cancer can also cause blood leak in stool. Tumors can develop in the colon and rectal region and in some people tumors can develop in the large intestine. If polyps are formed near the rectum it can lead to significant bleeding. Colitis is yet another reason for producing blood in stool. Inflammation of the colon is described as colitis.
Similarly the rectum develops swelling causing proctitis. This condition can occur due to infection of bacteria or virus. Ulcerative colitis can be long lasting leading to blood loss. Undergoing radiation therapy can affect the colon leading to radiation colitis and infection. In rare cases, prostate cancer can cause bleeding in stool. Stomach ulcer and GI infection can cause severe and rapid bleeding with bowel movement.
Based on the symptoms and health condition, your doctor will evaluate the reason for blood in stool. He would complete the physical exam and collect medical history including list of medicines you are taking currently. He may order for sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and anoscopy tests are done to rule out any serious problems in the colon and the doctor can also detect polyps, ulcerative proctitis, ischemic colitis and hemorrhoids.
In all the above procedure, flexible thin tube is inserted via the anus to monitor the entire region of colon. Actual cause of rectal bleeding can be evaluated using colonoscopy. If required, your doctor may order for additional testing like MRI and CT scan and nasogastric tube aspiration test to find any abnormalities in the digestive tract.
Blood In Stool Treatment :
Mild problems of rectal bleeding can be corrected using endoscopy. Certain chemicals are injected through the tube at the site of bleeding and using laser therapy the bleeding is arrested. Angiography would be done to clip the blood vessel, if the bleeding does not stop in the above method. Medications including antibiotics are prescribed to treat infection on the colon or stomach. Surgery is the ideal method to remove polyps.
You need to make suitable changes in the diet by including high fiber daily to reduce constipation. Through colonoscopy bleeding can be arrested and further bleeding can also be prevented. Mild form of blood in stool due to hemorrhoids and anal fissures can be managed by taking sitz baths and using proper creams.
Tips to Prevent Bleeding :
- Get rid of constipation by including high fiber diet.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Quit drinking which can increase rectal bleeding.
Most of the cases of blood in stool can be corrected by right diagnosis in time. Do not ignore if you see blood in stool since it can be due to serious problem also. Early diagnosis and treatment can help in managing the symptoms easily.