What is blood in Stool?

Blood in stools can signify a problem in the digestive tract.  The causes could vary from Colorectal Cancer or can be as simple as E.coli poisoning.  It may originate anywhere along the digestive tract; from mouth to anus. Melena is the blackish appearance of blood which originates from the upper digestive tract, and Hematochezia is the reddish look of blood,  originated from the latter part of the digestive tract.

What are the causes?

  1. Diverticular Disease A Diverticula are small pouches that project from the colon wall. Usually Diverticula do not cause problems, but sometimes they can bleed or become infected.
  2. Anal fissure A small cut or tear in the tissue lining the anus, similar to the cracks that occur on chaps lips or a paper cut. Fissures are often caused by passing a large, painful hard stool.
  3. Colitis Inflammation of the colon. Among the common causes are infections or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
  4. Angiodysplasia A condition in which fragile, abnormal blood vessels lead to bleeding.
  5. Peptic ulcers – An open sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (the upper end of the small intestine).  Many Peptic Ulcers occur with infection cased by a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori). Long-term use or high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen can also cause ulcers.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of blood in stools vary and not always discernible. A person may remain unaware of the symptoms and not notice any. 

The most common symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, weakness, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, palpitations, fainting and weight loss depending on the cause, spot, length, and severity of the bleeding.

Suspecting Gut cancer symptoms

When the bleeding is occult, and the patient is showing symptoms like a change of bowel habit or anemia.

Which specialist to consult?

Consult a Gastroenterologist or a General Physician at the earliest. The GP will be able to discern what the problem is or prefer to a specialist.

When to refer a doctor?

In case of massive bleeding medical help within two weeks is a must.

What are the screening tests conducted to rule out associated diseases?

Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is the most common test used to detect hidden traces of blood in the stool.  This is conducted as a screening test for Bowel Cancer.

Treating and Managing the disease

A doctor can recommend various techniques to stop bleeding.  Treatment may range from antibiotics to lessen the Pylori amount in the tract or to suppress acid secretion.

Surgery may sometimes be used to remove an additional growth or damaged parts of the colon caused by colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.  These treatments make sure not only the stoppage of bleeding but also that it does not return. Endoscopy is one of the most common methods used to stop bleeding. It involves either chemicals contained injection or laser to close the bleeding site.

Depending on the syndromes and symptoms, some measures like eating a high-fiber diet to relieve constipation and using hot baths to relieve anal fissures.

Though rectal bleeding is very common with many people, still preliminary precautions of investigation the syndrome are always suggested!

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