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When you see traces of blood in your stool, it usually scares you. But the blood you see on the toilet paper after wiping yourself clean, or the spots of blood you notice in the water could be just a manifestation of an instance of bleeding somewhere in the lower part of your alimentary canal. Instead of getting worked up, it would be better if you know what could be the possible causes, so that you can get the idea of what the cause is, based on your own physiology. Let us take a look at the most common causes of blood in stool-
10 Common Causes Of Blood In Stool
Sometimes our blood vessels get inflamed or swollen. These can occur due to excess pressure on the veins carrying blood. This could cause internal or external haemorrhoids which cause bleeding. When such haemorrhoids occur in the lower rectum and anus area, they can lead to blood in the stool. Apart from the physical manifestation of blood, you could also make out the existence of haemorrhoids by an itching sensation or by the formation of small lumps in the anal region. Usually, mild medication is enough to remove the symptoms of pain, itching or bleeding. But in case the haemorrhoids do not subside. Naturally, you might need to go in for surgical intervention in the form of stapling or laser therapy. This would remove the haemorrhoids.
Sometimes the tissues lining the anal cavity get injured during forceful bowel movements when the sphincter muscles are not able to relax as much as is required. This causes small cuts and tears in the tissues, which causes bleeding. Sometimes these fissures have different reasons for occurrence, like inflammatory bowel disease or sexually transmitted infections of the area. The stool related reason for such fissures has been observed to be the passage of stiff stool, multiple instances of diarrhoea, or constipation. That is why maintaining a regular and healthy bowel movement is key to avoiding the occurrence of anal fissures. Some women have also reported anal fissures during pregnancy.
3. Crohn’s Disease
We mentioned inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) earlier in the context of anal fissures, and another one of the known manifestations of IBD is named Crohn’s Disease. The entire alimentary canal (from mouth to anus) is susceptible to this disease, not just the digestive tract. You need to go in for a regular colonoscopy at least once a year as part of your annual check-up to find out if you have been afflicted by this chronic disease. Aside from diagnosis by colonoscopy, you can make out the existence of this disease in your body by the symptoms like diarrhoea, blood in the stool, weight loss and repeated waves of nausea. This disease can’t be cured completely except by surgical treatment. But if you are not keen for surgical invasion, you can follow a course of prescribed medicines to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Sometimes a small channel is formed between the anus and the skin surrounding the anal canal. It usually doesn’t trouble you, but while passing stool, you might get symptoms of irritation, redness and formation of sore rashes. Also, since it forms an alternate path for excreta apart from the anal canal, it can lead to infection as well. A fistula is observed as a result of the formation of abscesses, which is a swollen pocket of infected fluids. The infected fluids get accumulated when the normal path of the fluids produced by the anal glands gets blocked. Apart from the abscesses, many people suffering from tuberculosis or sexually transmitted diseases have shown symptoms of fistula. In fact, any illness that has affected your bowels can become the cause for fistula.
5. Ulcerative Colitis
Just like Crohn’s Disease, the other form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is called ulcerative colitis. This usually occurs in the large intestine and causes open sores which becomes the reason for blood in your stool. The sensitive lining of the colon (large intestine) is the target of ulcerative colitis, and it becomes prone to infection when there is a failure in the body’s normal immune system. Apart from blood spots in your stool, you would also suffer from unexplained abdominal pain and frequently occurring diarrhoea. Just like the other manifestation of IBD, this disease can be diagnosed by physical examination only, so a regular colonoscopy is recommended once you attain a certain age or if you have a history of bowel disorders. If afflicted, your best bet is a medication that would reduce or control the inflammation, because there is no known cure for ulcerative colitis.
Gastroenteritis is a common water-borne disease which occurs due to bacterial or viral inflammation of the digestive tract due to the intake of impure water. The symptom of this illness is acute diarrhoea which plays havoc with the fluid content of the patient and renders him or her very weak. This is because the watery stool is passed 3-4 times in the day, sometimes more. The corrosive impact of the intense diarrhoea on the insides of the lower part of the alimentary tract results in passing of blood in the stool. Apart from the blood, this disease also gives painful cramps, nausea and headaches to the patient. When you are affected, you can stop the blood in the stool by reducing the watery stool. To do this, you need to stay off solid food for some time to give your digestive system a break. Plenty of rest, accompanied by Tylenol or a similar medicine can cure you quickly.
You become more prone to this uncommon disease when you cross 60 years of age. They are caused by small vascular abnormalities on the walls of the large intestine. These are referred to as AVM (arteriovenous malformations). They have very delicate blood vessels which rupture very easily, leading to painless blood in the stool. Many surgeons recommend that the best way to control angiodysplasia is to remove the right side of the colon (large intestine) because it usually occurs on the right side of the colon. If you are not too keen on surgery, you need to treat for reduction of the bleeding, using procedures such as cauterisation or coagulation. Angiodysplasia has been very commonly observed in patients suffering from kidney failure and causes repetitive intestinal bleeding.
8. Peptic Ulcers
The upper part of the small intestine is called the duodenum, and if there are any cuts and nicks here which do not heal, they could also lead to blood in the stool. This symptom is referred to as a peptic ulcer, and these ulcers are caused by a specific bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Surprising, some patients have also reported the formation of peptic ulcers due to the intake of regular and ostensibly harmless medications like ibuprofen and aspirin. Your stool would contain traces of dark coloured stool when you suffer from peptic ulcer.
Additionally, you would also feel nauseous, vomit several times and also see a significant drop in your weight. Many patients also report a burning sensation in their chest as a result of the peptic ulcer. Doctors resort to the treatment of this disease with the help of acid-suppressing therapy and the ingestion of triple antibiotics.
9. Colon Polyps
Like a few of the diseases named above, this also occurs in the lining of the colon, hence the name. These colon polyps could be adenomatous, inflammatory or hyperplastic. Unlike most of the diseases in this list which have mostly harmless reasons for occurrence and equally harmless outcomes, colon polyps are said to have the potential to turn cancerous. This disease is usually accompanied by the two extreme symptoms of red diarrhoea or constipation, and of course, the blood observed in the stool. But these symptoms are only observed when the colon polyps have already formed. Preventive diagnosis can just be possible with regular colonoscopy tests. But because there have been many instances of colon polyps being the precursor of cancerous growth, it is recommended that you have an annual colonoscopy as soon as you cross the age of 50.
10. Diverticular Disease
Again an affliction occurring in the walls of the large intestine (colon). The name of this disease is taken from the diverticula, which are small pouches that are observed on the walls of the colon. You would feel a slight pain in your abdominal area while passing stool or otherwise. Diarrhoea can also be quite frequent, and the passage of the liquid stool could be accompanied by irritation and pain in the anal canal, apart from blood in the stool. Another symptom of this disease is constipation. Your lower abdomen might often feel bloated when you have this disease.
As you can see above, blood in the stool is mostly the result of some other symptom occurring inside the intestinal canal, but as soon as it is observed, you need to take corrective action either through medication or through surgery.