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Blood in the Stool

There’s a very long list of potential reasons for blood in the stool. If you notice blood in the stool, it’s important to figure out why this is happening. Bloody stool can be a minor problem easily corrected by dietary changes or it can be caused by something harmful such as a disease. Any disease detected in the early phases presents a better mortality rate so it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.

Blood in the stool can be startling when you notice it for the first time. Many potential reasons exist for bloody stool, but not all of them are life threatening. However, it’s wise to investigate further just to be sure.

Details of Bloody Bowel Movements


You should record any important observations about the blood so you can help determine the cause. Your doctor will probably ask you several questions. First of all, where did you notice the blood first? Was the blood visible in the toilet water, on the toilet paper only, permeating the waste, or just covering the bowel movement? Your doctor will also want to know if this is a regular occurrence or one you’ve just noticed recently.


Secondly, did you notice a pattern for when the bleeding occurs? Do you notice it only after straining to have a bowel movement when you’re constipated? Do you notice it after engaging in sexual activities or maybe after eating certain foods? If you can’t reckon any particular rhyme or reason for blood in the stool the first time it happens, it’s understandable. If the bleeding occurs frequently, however, determining the pattern may identify the underlying cause.


Empirical observation is important. What color is the blood in the stool? Is it a bright red that looks “new” or is it dark red (indicating dried blood)?  Is the blood accompanied by mucous? Answering these questions with pertinent details can help you and your doctor establish if you have a serious digestive disease and if further medical examinations are necessary.

Determining the Cause of Bloody Stool

Tissue Damage

Anal fissures are small tears of that tissue. These can sometimes cause a bit of bright blood on the toilet tissue or on the outside of the stool. Dietary changes to help you have bowel movements that are more frequent often give the fissures a chance to heal and also make it more comfortable to have bowel movements.


Food poisoning from bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can result in bloody diarrhea which will cease as you become well.

The darker the blood, the more likely it originated in an area other than the rectum. Dark, blackish and tarry blood is called Melena and it occurs where old blood has broken down due to bacteria. Melena often signifies ulcers or upper GI problems. Your doctor may want a stool sample to determine if the blood in the stool is caused by Melena or not.

Related Symptoms

Have you noticed other symptoms that might seem connected? For example, have you lost weight recently for no apparent reason? Has the frequency of your bowel movements changed suddenly? Sometimes, blood in the stool appears simply from straining due to constipation. Other times, bleeding can be a sign of bowel disease or stomach malfunctions.

Digestive Disorders

Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Celiac disease may also be factors at work if you experience blood in the stool. Diverticulitis, a digestive disorder marked by inflamed pouches developing along the intestinal tract, can also cause blood in the stool. Occult bleeding is considered bleeding not visible with the naked eye, but is discovered in the stool via examination of a stool sample. This may be discovered as part of a routine physical or while prescreening for various types of cancer. A number of tests can help diagnose conditions such as these.

Treating Blood in the Stool

It’s important to determine if the blood is occurring in the rectum or somewhere higher along your digestive tract. If you believe your bloody stool might be related to constipation or fissures, you should try increasing your fiber intake before anything else. If you’re not sure about how much fiber you consume, many online calorie counters can provide a detailed analysis of fiber intake based on your usual diet. Nutritionists recommend eating 25 grams of fiber per day. Dehydration also makes it difficult to have a bowel movement and can result in additional anal discomfort and bleeding. Drinking adequate amounts of water daily can help prevent an array of negative health conditions, with constipation at the top of the list.

It’s very important to pay attention to your symptoms to get an idea of what could be causing blood in the stool. Seek medical attention anytime you have bloody bowel movements, but it’s especially important to seek immediate attention if there are large amounts of blood, you feel weak or lightheaded, or if the bleeding is accompanied by fever or a rapid heart rate.

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