When you find blood in your stool, it’s a cause for concern – but not panic. While the presence of blackness in your stool, a streak of red upon wiping after a bowel movement, or blood detected in a test ordered at our office can signal something serious is going on in your digestive tract, it doesn’t always.
If you do notice blood in your stool, it’s best to make an appointment with us for an assessment. Here at GastroDoxs in Houston, Texas, Dr. Bharat Pothuri provides thorough evaluation and support if blood is detected in your stool. He’ll review your medical history and any other symptoms and check you for the following potential causes of bloody stools.
When you develop small pouches called diverticula in the colon wall, they can become irritated and begin to bleed. Diverticular disease is quite common and may develop due to colon pressure that causes areas of the colon to bulge out. When these pouches become inflamed, rectal bleeding and digestive distress may arise.
If you have diverticular disease, dietary changes to include more fiber and limit red meat can help ease discomfort. Antibiotics and a drain for any abscesses can treat flare-ups.
If you detect bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet, it may be hemorrhoids causing your bleeding. These swollen blood vessels can occur inside or outside the anus and cause pain, swelling, and tenderness. They usually result from straining to use the restroom due to constipation, following a low-fiber diet, or from holding your stool for long periods of time.
Hemorrhoids are usually managed with external ointments, oral pain relievers, a high-fiber diet, and improved bowel habits. If you have severe hemorrhoids, intervention such as surgery or rubber band ligation, may be necessary to help you find relief.
Polyps or cancer
The presence of blackness in your stool may indicate internal bleeding caused by polyps or cancerous growths in the colon. Polyps are benign (noncancerous) but can develop into colon cancer and should be removed. Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and needs immediate attention. If you have signs of internal bleeding, Dr. Pothuri may recommend a colonoscopy to check for polyps or cancer.
An anal fissure is a small cut or tear in the tissue lining of the anus. You can think of fissures like paper cuts or chapped, split lips. They’re harmless but can be quite painful. Usually, passing a large, hard stool causes the tear(s) to occur.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammation of the colon can cause blood to appear in your stool. This inflammation is usually associated with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These conditions are likely caused by an immune system dysfunction and have symptoms such as abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, and severe diarrhea.
An open sore in the lining of your stomach or the upper end of the small intestine can cause bleeding. These ulcers may result from long-term use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or because of an infection of Helicobacter pylori. Peptic ulcers are treated with oral medications that clear up an H. pylori infection or that reduce the amount of stomach acid you produce.
If you have blood in your stool, it’s worth a visit to GastroDoxs for a thorough evaluation. Call today or book online so any necessary treatment isn’t delayed.