Noticing blood in your stool can be a cause for concern. While there are various minor factors that can contribute to this, it can also indicate the presence of a gastrointestinal (GI) ailment. It’s important to note that in some rare instances, it may be indicative of cancer.
This article will help you understand :
If you notice any blood in your stool, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor. In cases where there are no accompanying symptoms, it may not necessarily be an urgent matter, but it’s still advisable to seek medical attention for further investigation.
When to seek urgent care
Although the presence of blood in your stool usually doesn’t necessitate immediate medical attention, there are some situations where seeking urgent care is warranted.
Signs to seek urgent care:
What does blood in your poo look like?
The presence of blood in your stool indicates bleeding in some part of your digestive system. This condition is commonly known as rectal bleeding, which refers to bleeding from the rectum or anus.
You might experience:
Symptoms associated with blood in your poo :
The colour of the blood in your poo signals where the blood is coming from in your digestive tract. It could be bright red, dark red, or black and tarry. The colour of your poo may also change due to harmless reasons, such as the food you ate. High quantities of beetroot, for example, may turn your poo red.
If the blood in your poo is bright red, it has likely come from low in your colon or rectum. The rectum is the last part of your colon/large intestine.
During pregnancy or postpartum, it’s possible to develop hemorrhoids or an anal fissure due to elevated pressure on blood vessels in the lower abdomen. These conditions are typical during and following pregnancy.
Causes of bright red blood in your poo include :
If the blood in your stool is dark red or maroon in color, it suggests that the bleeding is occurring further up in the colon or small intestine. There is also a possibility that it is originating from the stomach.
Causes of dark red blood in your poo include :
Black and tarry
Very dark red and black poo suggests the bleeding is coming from your upper digestive tract. This can range from your mouth and food pipe (oesophagus) to your stomach and upper small intestine (duodenum).
Generally, the darker the blood, the higher the source of the bleed. If you are bleeding from your stomach, your poo may appear plum or black and tarry. Your blood might also look sticky.
Iron tablets can cause black poo, as can eating a lot of dark foods. If you are taking iron tablets, speak to your doctor about the possible side effects.
Occult (hidden) blood
For some people, we can only identify the presence of blood in their poo using a stool test. This is a test of your poo to look for microscopic traces of blood. If the blood is present but not visible, we call this occult.
We may perform stool tests if you are experiencing symptoms of a GI condition. Such as a change in your bowel habits or abdominal pain.
Causes of occult blood include :
Polyps and Bowel Cancer
Blood in your poo is rarely caused by bowel cancer or polyps (abnormal growths). It’s still important to be aware of the signs.
Polyps and Bowel Cancer
If we believe your symptoms are due to a GI condition, we may perform the following tests.
Whether we perform an endoscopy will depend on your symptoms.
How we treat blood in the poo depends on what is causing it.
Possible Treatments :
If you are experiencing an anal fissure or haemorrhoids, we may recommend a high-fibre diet and other lifestyle changes. If we find signs of an infection, we may prescribe antibiotics.
Endoscopic treatment may be appropriate if the bleed does not stop. This could involve injecting medicine, cauterising the site of the bleed, or closing off a blood vessel.
If your colon has been damaged by diverticula, IBD, or cancer, we may recommend surgery to treat this.