The passage of blood in stools is not considered normal by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not something that you necessarily need to panic about. Although blood in stools shouldn’t cause a panic, it does warrant concern, which means you will probably need to visit your doctor.
Yes, as embarrassing as it may be to discuss your bowel movements, stools can tell a lot about your health and the presence of blood does hint at a few possible conditions. Generally, it’s nothing too serious, but it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can get the appropriate treatment.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes of blood in stools.
Health Conditions That Cause Blood In Stools
Piles Or Hemorrhoids
“Severe or frequent constipation increases pressure on the rectal blood vessels, causing swelling or inflammation of the veins & in many cases bleeding”
Severe or chronic constipation can cause a variety of problems, increasing pressure on the rectal blood vessels, causing swelling or inflammation of the veins in the area. During the passage of hard stools bloody streaks may be visible or there may be some dripping of blood following stool passage. The condition can be extremely painful and may also cause itching and other feelings of discomfort.
“Anal fissures are exceedingly painful & usually develop as a result of tears or fissures in the rectum”
Once again, caused by frequent or severe constipation, an anal fissure basically describes a tear in the rectum, which makes stool passage or even sitting extremely painful. Along with hemorrhoids, this is one of the most common causes of anal bleeding. If bleeding is caused by an anal fissure it is likely to be bright red.
“A painful condition that sometimes develops as a result of infection, this condition requires medical treatment & in some cases surgical intervention”
This refers to the condition in which an abnormal passage forms between the end of the bowel and the skin near the anus. This usually occurs as a result of infections near the anal opening that result in the formation of pus. After the pus drains away, a passage may be left behind. Aside from bleeding, patients also tend to experience severe discomfort, itching, and irritation.
“Although usually mild, severe cases of gastroenteritis can also cause passage of blood & mucus with stools”
Gastrointestinal infections are also fairly common in India, but in most cases, such infections are mild and will only cause diarrhea and possibly vomiting. In some cases, depending on the type of infection, gastroenteritis can cause passage of blood and mucus with stools.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
“Although less common in India, this condition causes inflammation of the stomach lining, resulting bloody stools & a variety of nutritional deficiencies”
If you frequently experience tummy upsets, that cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea, it could be indicative of an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, among others. In these conditions, the lining of the bowel is itself inflamed. The resultant blood loss through stools can contribute to other problems and may also be accompanied by malabsorption, resulting in deficiencies.
“Colon cancer is not very common in India, but it is a risk you should be aware of, as blood in stools is one of the earliest symptoms of the condition”
Cancer of the bowels or colon is often first detected through the passage of blood in stools. Although colon cancer is far less common than conditions like hemorrhoids, the passage of blood in stools cannot be taken lightly for this reason. The risk is particularly high if there is any family history of the condition.
What Can You Do?
Most of these problems can be resolved through dietary changes to address the underlying cause, which in the case of piles and anal fissures is inadequate fiber and fluid intake. Cutting down on processed foods, while increasing the intake of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables can make a huge difference.
On the other hand, problems like fistula and colon cancer require minor surgery and intensive medical treatment, respectively. The best thing you can do would be to seek a medical diagnosis and treatment as there are also other possible causes for blood in stools, such as the formation of diverticuli, bowel polyps, or because of anal sex and sexually transmitted infections.
August 3, 2018