Blood in stool is one of the most fear-inducing symptoms in humans. Generally, because the body is a very big machine made up of different systems working together, a symptom like bloody stools could be caused by a variety of conditions. Blood in the stool could be red just like the blood that results from a cut or could be dark red in color. It is usually a result of bleeding in the gastrointestinal system.
This bleeding could be anywhere from the mouth to the anus. The darker the blood appears, the further away from the anus is the origin of the bleed. This means that bleeding from your upper gastrointestinal tract would lead to a dark, tarry stool called melena.
In this article, we discuss 5 common causes of blood in the stool.
1. Anal fissures
Anal fissures are the most common cause of blood in stool in young children. They usually occur due to constipation or the passing of a hard stool. This stool forces its way through the anus and cracks the skin of the anus, causing a minor tear in the skin.
Anal fissures usually heal on their own but the application of cream on the fissure could help relieve the pain.
Hemorrhoids are actually blood vessels that are swollen. Someone who has hemorrhoids may feel a soft mass hanging from his anus after he defecates which he may be able to push back in.
Hemorrhoids could be itchy and/or painful and some of the risk factors are constipation, lifting heavy objects, and sitting for a long time. They can sometimes perforate and cause blood in stool.
Usually, hemorrhoids can be treated without surgery by increasing the amount of fiber you eat. If it does not resolve, surgery may be required.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Sometimes, the body’s own immune cells attack the gastrointestinal tract. This causes inflammation of the bowels. The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Treatment for IBD is mainly through the use of steroids and immune-modifying agents. In severe cases, surgery could be done.
4. Bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal system.
This is perhaps the most common cause of blood in stool. The stool usually appears black and tarry in these patients.
Causes of bleeding from the upper GI tract include bleeding ulcers, tears, stomach cancer, and bowel perforation. Serious upper GI bleeding may need surgery.
Other causes of blood in stool include infectious causes, polyps, cancers, angiodysplasia, diverticulosis, etc.
Note: Make sure to report symptoms to your doctor so that an appropriate assessment and investigations can be carried out to find out the exact cause of your symptom.