If you notice blood in stool, spotting on toilet paper or drops of blood in the toilet bowl, it’s recommended that you meet a gastroenterologist and understand why this may be happening. Blood in stool can be a telltale sign of a range of gastrointestinal diseases, although many people may dismiss this as something trivial or may feel embarrassed to seek help.
If you experience heavy rectal bleeding, you may also experience symptoms such as feeling faintish, dizziness or lightheadedness. In such instances, seeking immediate medical treatment is important if you want to avoid any complications or serious health risks.
Blood in stool, in and of itself, can be a symptom of a range of gastrointestinal diseases.
While blood in stool is generally very visible, it may not be noticeable to certain people. If visible to the naked eye, blood in stool tends to be bright red, maroon or black and tarry.
In the absence of obvious signs, you may also experience other symptoms that may point to gastroenterological health issues. This could be due to the location of the bleeding, which can be anywhere on the GI tract, from where it starts – the mouth – to where it ends – the anus, and the rate of bleeding.
Even if bleeding in the GI tract is not visible to the naked eye, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
Your bleeding may also start very abruptly and progress rapidly. In such cases, you may go into shock. Signs and symptoms of shock include:
- A drop in blood pressure
- Not urinating or urinating infrequently in small amounts
- Rapid pulse
Causes for blood in stool can range from harmless conditions in the GI tract to more serious health issues. This is why you must meet your doctor to find out whether you’re experiencing something that requires extensive treatment.
The causes for blood in stool can include:
- Anal fissures – small painful cracks in the anus
- Bowel infections
- Bowel cancer
- Colorectal polyps – small growths that can become cancerous
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Diverticular disease
If you have bright red blood in your stool, the location of the bleeding may be somewhere close to the anus, rectum or the sigmoid colon. Most rectal bleeding comes from the colon, rectum or anus and may also be associated with diarrhoea.
If you have black, tarry stool instead of visible blood in stool, this usually signifies that bleeding is from the upper gastrointestinal tract (for example, bleeding from ulcers in the stomach or the small intestine).
Regardless of what appearance it takes, blood in stool is a sign of a gastroenterological condition that requires medical attention and treatment.
If you are noticing signs of blood in stool and you make an appointment to see your doctor, they may ask you to see a gastroenterologist, a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases.
Prior to treatment, you may be asked to get certain tests done to understand the exact cause for the blood in stool.
These tests may include:
- A rectal examination
- A colonoscopy – a tube with a camera attached to it that’s used to examine your entire colon
The appropriate treatment for blood in stool depends on what is causing the problem. Some of this treatment could be to make changes to your lifestyle or diet.
If the blood in stool is caused by something more serious, such as diverticular disease or bowel cancer, you will require more urgent and invasive treatment.
Request more information on treatment for blood in stool
Evidence of blood in stool can be a concerning sign indicating the state of your gastrointestinal health.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of blood in stool – regardless of whether it’s really visible or not – consult a team of expert gastroenterologists for more information on treatment options for better gastroenterological health.
Please note that due to COVID-19, our clinic has revised its safety protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff.