Hematochezia (the presence of blood in the stool), is a source of alarm for many. When you see signs of this condition, it is highly recommended to consult your physician immediately. However, it doesn’t outright point to a serious problem and just might be something insignificant like a fissure or a cut in the anal linings or some sores on the intestinal tract.
Blood in your stool could be due to a number of reasons, and the following are among the most probable causes:
1. Anal Fissure
This is characterized by a crack or a cut in the skin caused by rectal pressure on hard constipated bowels or even frequent diarrhea. These fissures may lead to the exposure of some muscle tissue underneath, and this usually leads to some painful and itchy sensations that will last from four to six weeks.
Anal fissures are commonly experienced by young children and infants due to frequent constipation induced by their diet. Women who have child birthing strains and those who have particularly tight anal sphincter muscles may also find this experience common. Older people may also be a usual candidate for this due to the decreasing blood flow in their anorectal area which allows for their lining tissues to tear easily.
Though this is not necessarily a serious case, Healthline suggests that it may take a turn for the worst when it has exceeded the 8-week mark where it can be considered chronic. Stool softeners, relieving ointments, and topical pain relievers can help ease the discomfort, but it is best to consult a physician when the healing is taking too long.
If unattended, this may lead to anal cancer or might be a symptom of HIV, syphilis, herpes, or tuberculosis. Fortunately, you can avoid this by keeping the area clean and dry at all times, consuming more fibers and liquids, and applying the prescribed topical treatment as needed.
This condition is like a next-level fissure as these are swollen veins that can be cut and irritated when you defecate. According to WebMD, hemorrhoids can be one of two types: internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids.
The former is not as painful, since there are a few pain-sensing nerves in that area, but they do cause blood in your stool. The external one is particularly painful and is somewhat itchy as it is located around your anus. Blood clots, or thrombosis, may form in that area, thereby causing all the discomfort. Even when it subsides, it still runs the risk of being irritated.
You are most likely to contract this if your family members, especially your parents, have it as a chronic condition. It is also caused by pregnancy, obesity, consuming a diet that is low in fiber, and anal sex. Even those who sit or stand for way too long have the risk of getting the condition. Constipation, diarrhea, and even bouts of coughing and sneezing might worsen it due to the pressure exerted by the body, so it is best that these are attended to immediately.
Another misconception with both hemorrhoids and anal fissures is how it can be worsened by spicy food. What truly happens is that spices are not processed entirely by our body and will be discharged eventually, and these spices irritated the anal linings, hence the painful sensation.
In actuality, what you should avoid is food that can cause constipation such as dairy, unripe bananas, red meats, and gluten.
3. Diverticular disease
According to the ASCRS, or the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, this is a condition wherein diverticula or small sacs form on the walls of the large intestine, especially in the sigmoid colon.
There are two types of this disease which are as follows:
• Diverticulosis – This refers to the presence of diverticula without current complications but may lead to the narrowing of the colon passageway, occasional rectal bleeding, or the second more problematic type which is diverticulitis.
• Diverticulitis – This disease is characterized by the inflammation of the perforated diverticula which can lead to worse complications like the formation of abscess or infections. Peritonitis is an example of a fatal bacterial infection that can be caused by this condition. This may also cause the narrowing of the colon passageway or forming of a tract that will connect the colon to another organ.
Though this disease doesn’t have any direct symptoms, one way to avoid contracting it is by maintaining a whole-grain high-fiber diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. A consultation with a physician is recommended so you may be prescribed with the medication you need for faster recovery.
This chronic bowel disease is characterized by the gradual development of inflamed ulcers within the digestive tract. According to the Mayo Clinic, this affects the innermost linings of the colon, reaching up to the rectum. This is a condition without a cure that causes a painful sensation that can range from debilitating to life-threatening. However, treatments can greatly reduce the symptoms and alleviate the discomfort, with big hopes for long-term remission.
Though this may be highly detrimental to the growth of children, the symptoms for adults can be diarrhea with blood and pus, abdominal cramps and rectal discomfort, urgency but the inability to defecate, and a moderate fever. This will eventually lead to weight loss.
This disease, as stated by Healthline, causes the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to develop swollen blood vessels and lesions. The abnormality of these blood vessels can affect the entire region from your mouth to the esophagus, intestines, colon, stomach, and the anus.
The complicated part with this condition is that it can develop without pain, thus without any means of early detection. Its main symptoms which include the weakening of the body, shortness of breath, and fast-paced heartbeat take a slow effect, and the alarm will only start when the rectal bleeding ensues.
Angiodysplasia is a condition more common in the elderly or people with a history of cardiac disease. The medication used is usually an anticoagulant or blood thinner. Still, the complications may be severe and may lead to anemia due to blood loss and eventually, cancer. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult a physician upon noticing the signs.
6. Peptic ulcers
According to Healthline, peptic ulcers are lesions and sores found in the linings of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestines that are caused by the erosion of gastrointestinal acids and the H. pylori bacterial inflammation.
Although more common compared to the other conditions, this can cause a lot of discomfort in the stomach and chest area and may induce vomiting, nausea, and a subsequent weight loss. In its more serious stages, it can cause you to have bloody and dark stools.
There are three types, as determined by the location of the developing ulcers:
• Gastric Ulcers – These are ulcers that develop along the lining of the stomachs and in some parts of the intestines.
• Esophageal Ulcers – These are located on the linings of your esophagus where the protective layers of the tract have worn away.
• Duodenal Ulcers – These ones are found in the duodenum which happens to be where your food travels to from your stomach.
A lot of over-the-counter medications are readily available to alleviate the discomfort caused by this ailment which can either reduce the acidity in the stomach or facilitate the healing of the ulcers. Antibiotics are also prescribed to avoid the spread of infections
7. Rectal Trauma
Though this condition is a probable cause of blood in your stool, rectal trauma may not exactly be a consequence of anal sex. As stated in the 2010 discussion of Tseng and Dahm for the Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer, this may be due to a serious injury on a neighboring organ or body part which may result in a temporary fecal diversion while the patient maintains a liquid diet.
8. Polyps or Cancer
Polyps, particularly ones classified as colorectal, are abnormal growths that develop in the internal linings of the colon down to the rectum. Even though most of these growths aren’t cancerous to begin with, having them removed is a guaranteed method of reducing the chances of contracting cancer. A few of their uncommon effects include blood in the stool, excessive mucus, abdominal pains, and a frequency in bowel habits.
The ASCRS or American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommend a colonoscopy for the early detection of polyps so that these growths can be monitored if ever they are pre-cancerous by nature and removed immediately for immediate assurance.
9. Crohn’s disease
This inflammatory bowel disease involves various parts of your digestive tract and can potentially lead to life-threatening possibilities. Its signs and symptoms are of the common set including abdominal and stomach pains, severe diarrhea, and internal inflammations that can cause malnutrition, weight loss, and fatigue.
Even so, Mayo Clinic mentioned how the diagnosis can only be pointed as Crohn’s once all the possibilities are ruled out since the development of this disease is gradual and subtle that it can remain undetected until it causes issues in the system without warning. It can even cause the inflammation of your skin, eyes, and joints. In some cases, it may affect the growth of children.
Although the main cause remains unknown, an unhealthy diet and stressful lifestyle may aggravate the condition, and there are other factors that play a role including a weakened immune system, hereditary aspects and family history with Crohn’s, and heavy bouts of smoking.
As stated by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, proctitis is an inflammation of the rectal lining which can either be acute or chronic. The most common causes of this condition are unsafe anal sex, another inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or radiotherapy sessions on the pelvic or abdominal area. It may also be caused by an infection in the rectal area or by a subsequent injury. It is mainly characterized by an uncontrollable urge to defecate frequently.
Like most of the mentioned ailments, consuming high fiber foods and loading up on liquids can soften your bowels and alleviate the discomfort you may experience when defecating. It is also recommended that you abstain from unsafe vigorous anal intercourse as it may further increase anal trauma and pain.
11. Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Another example that can cause blood to be present in your stool is gastrointestinal bleeding. Even though this can go the other way and cause the vomiting of blood, a GI bleed is also considered a form of internal hemorrhage. The aforementioned conditions can be the main causes of internal bleeding, but it can only be determined by conducting an endoscopy or a colonoscopy.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, this condition is predominantly diagnosed as a symptom than an ailment, but this still warrants the immediate attention of a physician. This may be caused by a cut in the linings or the excretions of a growth which can be determined after a few tests are run.
Indeed, finding your excretions a bit tarry or reddish with blood can be frightening, but we are hoping that you have all you need in this list we prepared. Now that you’ve known the most probable causes why there’s blood in your stool, the next thing you should do is to take note of the possible remedies which include a healthy diet of fiber-rich food, fruits, and vegetables – all which make for great natural stool softeners. It’s also highly recommended to consult your doctor about it as soon as possible.
Prevention can also go a very long way in avoiding any of these conditions as they can get too painful and can cause a lot of stress and paranoia knowing that there’s something wrong with your body without you seeing it.
Still, observing a good lifestyle can lessen the chances of you contracting any of these diseases and prevent the presence of blood in your stool.