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What Causes Blood in Stool?

Blood In Stool: Causes and Diagnosis

When you look down and notice blood in your stool, on the paper, or in the toilet, often the mind races to some pretty scary places. Did I swallow a piece of glass? Am I bleeding internally? Was that heartburn really ulcers? Or what about cancer?

Fortunately, when it comes to blood in stool, there are only a handful of causes—some relatively harmless, some quite serious—and all are treatable, with a proper diagnosis from a doctor who specializes in gastrointestinal issues.

If you see blood in your stool, it might be caused by one of the following conditions:

  • Hemorrhoids – hemorrhoids are cushions at the anal opening consisting of blood vessels and other tissue.  When they become problematic, these hemorrhoids may cause itching, swelling, protrusion as well as hemorrhoid bleeding.  In fact, they are the most frequent cause of blood passed from the lower intestinal tract.
  • Anal fissure—An anal fissure is one of the most common causes of blood in the stool, and one that most people are at least somewhat familiar with. Fissure occurs when a small tear or cut develops in the skin around the anus, often from passing large stools.
  • Angiodysplasia—Angiodysplasia is a condition where a group of abnormal blood vessels develop somewhere in the G.I. tract.
  • Cancer—Sometimes polyps, which are growths of tissue in the G.I. tract, become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. When blood in the stool is due to cancer, it’s often not noticeable by the patient and is most often detected through colonoscopy screening by a medical professional.
  • Colitis—Colitis is an inflammation of the colon. When the colon becomes inflamed, it often can swell and will sometimes bleed, and then the blood is expelled in the stool. Causes of the inflammation can include both infections and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Diverticular disease—Sometimes, small pouches develop in the wall of the colon.  These pouches are benign, but some of them may become infected (diverticulitis), or bleed..  Bleeding from diverticulosis may sometimes be severe.
  • Esophageal issues—In certain patients, varicose veins can form in the esophagus, causing bleeding that will be detected in the stool.
  • Peptic ulcers—When an ulcer, either in the stomach or duodenum, becomes severe, it may start bleeding, which will show in the toilet or the stool. This type of bleeding may not be visible to the naked eye, and it may also present as dark or black bowel movements.  Causes of peptic ulcers can include bacterial infection or overindulgence in anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen.

If you see blood in your stool and are worried about its cause, help is easy to find. Use our physician search feature to find a hemorrhoids doctor near you. They’ll be able to answer all your questions and provide you with an accurate diagnosis and present treatment options to get your digestive tract back in tiptop shape. Call today.

 

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