Blood in your stool, in the toilet, or on the toilet paper can be concerning. In most cases, the blood is a result of a non life-threatening problem, such as anal fissures or hemorrhoids.
You can’t be sure, however, of the cause of your rectal bleeding without an exam by an expert, such as Dr. Bharat Pothuri of GastroDoxs. If you do have a more serious medical problem, such as colon cancer, early detection gives you the best chance of overcoming it. So if you notice blood in your stool: Do not ignore it.
Possible causes of blood in the stool
Hemorrhoids can cause bleeding because they’re itchy, painful, and swollen. These irritated blood vessels cause bright red blood that coats the stool or is visible when wiping.
Anal fissures, which are tears in the lining of the anus, can make it feel as if you’re experiencing a rip in your anus while you defecate. Burning is another symptom of an anal fissure.
Colon problems can also cause blood in the stool. Issues such as colon cancer, colon polyps, colitis, and diverticulitis are all possible causes. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can also irritate your digestive tract enough to cause bleeding.
If you have a black coloring in your stool, it can also indicate bleeding. Usually, this coloration occurs when you have bleeding high up in the digestive tract, such as in the stomach. But you may have a dark color to your stool if you took diarrhea medication or iron supplements, so it’s not always worrisome.
Tests that identify a cause
Dr. Pothuri performs a physical exam to check for hemorrhoids or fissures. He can offer pain relief for these uncomfortable, but relatively benign, conditions. He can talk with you about ways to prevent them in the future, too.
You may need more in-depth tests if the cause of your rectal bleeding isn’t easily detected with a physical or rectal exam. An anoscopy allows Dr. Pothuri to examine your lower rectum and anus. This test is done in the office without sedation. Another test for your rectum and lower intestine, a sigmoidoscopy, also requires no sedation.
Dr. Pothuri may recommend a colonoscopy depending on the nature of your bleeding, your family history, and your symptoms. This test examines your whole colon and is done while you’re under sedation.
Why blood in the stool is a concern
Although rectal bleeding can have a minor cause, it can also indicate cancer or a precancerous condition. If you have polyps (precancerous growths) near the lowest portion of your colon, your bleeding can present just like it does for hemorrhoids. Polyps can exist for several years before they turn cancerous – so it’s best to have them removed as soon as they’re detected to prevent this progression.
As you reach the age of 40 or 50, the risk for polyps and colon cancer increases. So it becomes even more important to be extra cautious about blood in your stool and have a thorough exam.
If you’re experiencing any hint of rectal bleeding, don’t hesitate to call GastroDoxs or make an appointment online. You’re better off being safe than sorry, because ignoring rectal bleeding can lead to serious complications.