If you have noticed changes in your stool, it may be time to talk to a gastroenterologist. Blood can be worrying for many individuals. Many things can cause it, from minor conditions like hemorrhoids to more severe issues like colon cancer. Recognizing the possible causes of blood in the stool is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment.
Let’s talk about eleven conditions you may need to watch out for and where you can go for outstanding gastrointestinal care in California.
Hemorrhoids are a common cause of rectal bleeding. Swollen and inflamed veins in the anus or rectum can cause pain, itching, swelling, and a full sensation.
The bleeding is usually bright red and may be noticed on toilet paper or in the bowl after relieving yourself.
Treatments can include lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber intake and drinking plenty of water, over-the-counter remedies such as topical creams and ointments, or in some cases, surgery.
2. Anal Fissures
An anal fissure is a crack or tear in the skin around the anus, which can be painful. This condition often results from trauma to the anus. Examples include:
- Chronic straining during bowel movements
- Passing hard or large stools
- Having diarrhea for an extended period
When a fissure develops, the muscle inside the anus tends to tense up. This tightening can cause the tear to widen.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD can cause inflammation in the digestive tract and lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloody stools.
IBD includes two different conditions:
- Ulcerative colitis – persistent diarrhea and rectal bleeding, often with blood or pus in the stool
- Crohn’s Disease – similar symptoms but also causes fatigue and weight loss
Ulcers are sores that can form in the stomach lining or duodenum. These painful sores can bleed and thus lead to the presence of blood in the stool.
The primary cause of ulcers is a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Another factor would be the long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Remedies depend on the underlying cause. If left untreated, ulcers can cause serious complications, such as internal bleeding or perforation of the stomach or intestine.
5. Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a severe disease that affects the colon and rectum. Its symptoms include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel habits
Colorectal cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. It is rare for this disease to present with only rectal bleeding. Instead, it often comes with other signs.
6. Gastrointestinal Infections
Blood in the stool can result from an infection in the digestive tract.
Other symptoms of these infections would be abdominal cramps and fever. Management generally involves antibiotics to clear up the infection.
For a faster recovery, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and analgesics.
Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula, small pouches in the digestive system lining, become infected or inflamed. Its symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
The cause of diverticulitis is often unknown but may relate to diet, medications, and genetic factors. Treatment usually involves antibiotics, rest, and a liquid or low-fiber diet.
In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a portion of the intestine.
8. Intestinal Ischemia
Intestinal ischemia is when a blockage causes reduced blood flow to the intestines, leading to:
- Intense abdominal pain, specifically in one area of the stomach
- Feeling queasy
- Bloody stools
Intestinal ischemia can result in severe outcomes, such as sepsis, death of bowel tissues, and the patient’s actual death.
Polyps are noncancerous, abnormal growths that can develop on the colon lining. Most are small and are unlikely to bleed, but they can become cancerous if left untreated.
Adults aged 45 and above must have regular colonoscopy screenings to detect polyps before they become a health risk.
10. Colonic Angiodysplasia
Colonic angiodysplasia is a problem with the blood vessels in the colon.
When it presents as rectal bleeding, bright red blood may be observed on toilet paper or in the bowl. The bleeding may be intermittent or chronic. Cramping or abdominal pain may accompany it.
Despite its recurrent nature, angiodysplasia is often a benign condition. If left untreated, however, the patient may suffer from anemia and chronic blood loss.
11. Food Intolerance
Food intolerance is when people cannot break down certain foods. Other potential symptoms are headache, fatigue, nausea, constipation, joint pain, and rashes. The experience can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Note that food intolerance differs from an allergy, which causes symptoms like itchy skin, wheezing, or swelling.
People with food intolerance may experience blood in the stool. In some cases, the body’s reaction can cause inflammation, leading to bleeding in the digestive tract.
This type of blood in the stool is not from an infection or other medical issue. The primary treatment is to avoid the food causing the symptom.
Experienced Gastroenterologist in California
If you are searching for a GI specialist, look no further than inSite Digestive Health Care. We have state-of-the-art screening and diagnostic tools to evaluate patients and provide them with prompt and effective treatment. With extensive experience in all areas of digestive health, we can take care of you. We have multiple locations across California to assist you better.
To know more or get treatment, use our office locator to find a clinic near you. You can also request an appointment online.