Treatment for blood in stool is an important area of care for most GPs and gastroenterologists. Given that many individuals in Australia experience blood in stool or rectal bleeding at some point in their lives, understanding what causes this condition and its treatment can provide some clarity.
When considering the treatment for this condition, medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes are important for a patient’s full recovery.
This blog takes a brief look at why people may suffer from rectal bleeding and the various types of treatment for blood in stool that may be recommended. Significant lifestyle modification should not be undertaken without guidance.
Causes of blood in stool
Blood in the stool can be caused by a number of medical conditions. Apart from being a condition in and of itself, it may also be a symptom of a more serious, underlying health issue.
Blood in the stool means that bleeding is taking place in a certain part of an individual’s digestive tract. Bleeding that takes place higher up within this part of the body makes stool appear black and tarry. Causes for bleeding include:
- Diverticular disease
- Anal fissures
- Peptic ulcers
- Polyps or cancer – two studies on rectal bleeding in primary care in Australia and North East England reported a 1 in 10 prevalence of cancer
Rectal bleeding: Investigations
The following procedures may be used to identify causes of rectal bleeding:
Gastroscopy and Endoscopy – using an endoscope or a flexible tube with a camera on the end; this is used to identify the source of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. Small tissue samples may be collected in this process.
Colonoscopy – a procedure similar to Gastroscopy or Endoscopy. Here, the scope is inserted through the rectum to inspect an individual’s colon.
Enteroscopy – a procedure used to examine the small intestine. Individuals may be asked to swallow a capsule with a tiny camera inside.
Radionuclide scanning – minor quantities of radioactive material is inserted into a vein, after which a scan is used to see images of blood flow in the digestive tract.
Treatment for blood in stool
Depending on the cause of this condition, certain types of treatment for blood in stool may be recommended.
One type of treatment is the injection of chemicals to the site of the bleeding through an endoscopy. This procedure is recommended particularly if there’s bleeding in any part of the digestive tract. This is also used to administer an electronic current or laser in certain cases. A band or clip may even be used to close the bleeding vessel.
If this proves ineffective, an angiography can be used to inject medicine into the blood vessels to suppress the bleeding.
Medication may also be used to address the cause of the bleeding. The medication prescribed will depend on the cause of the condition. Antibiotics are used to treat H. pylori or to control the acid produced in the stomach. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat colitis. Apart from these, hemorrhoidal creams and stool softeners may also be recommended.
In certain cases, surgery may be needed to remove polyps or the parts of the colon damaged by cancer, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease. In the event that surgeons cannot identify the specific location causing blood in stool, an extensive colon resection might have to take place.
Lifestyle changes for treatment of bleeding from haemorrhoids
Apart from medical procedures and medicine, certain lifestyle changes may be recommended. These need to be approved. These include:
- Maintaining a high-fibre diet to prevent constipation
- Avoiding the excessive consumption of alcohol
- Taking sitz baths
- Avoiding sitting in the toilet for too long
- Applying an ice pack to the affected area to decrease pain
- Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day
- Bathing the skin around the anus
- Decreasing straining with bowel movements
Expert gastroenterologists can provide treatment for blood in stool
Treatment for blood in stool is a process many medical professionals are familiar with. Expert gastroenterologists can provide patients with relief and long-term remedies for this condition, provided that an accurate diagnosis of the underlying issue causing rectal bleeding can be identified.
To find out further information about the causes and treatment for blood in stool, Sydney Gut Clinic’s experienced gastroenterology experts can be consulted.