Reasons for Blood in Stool
Anyone experiencing this symptom likely wants to know the reasons for blood in stool. A person noticing bloody stool should become familiar with the abbreviation CEA. What is CEA and how does this relate to blood in stool? These questions will be answered directly, but first let’s examine some of the causes of bloody stool.
Various Reasons for Blood in Stool:
Infant Elimination Problems
The above information highlights how specific reasons for blood in stool can change throughout the lifetime. In an infant, constipation can cause blood in stool due to the extreme tenderness of his or her anus. Straining during a bowel movement can damage the sphincter muscle, which then bleeds. The blood can show up in the infant’s diaper, leaving especially the novice parent wondering if something serious has happened.
An infant might also have a telescoping bowel, which contorts the intestinal lining. Such contortions can cause bleeding as well, and this adds to the reasons for blood in the stool of an infant.
Teen Digestive Dilemmas
Regarding teens and young adults, the list of reasons for blood in stool requires a few amendments. Hemorrhoids are a frequent cause for bloody waste in teens and young adults.
Other causes of bloody stool include:
- Duodenal ulcers
- Mekel’s diverticulum
- Colon polyps
A young pregnant female could find blood in her stool. Pregnancy can cause the formation of hemorrhoids, and can thus lead to the appearance of bloody stool now and then. In this case, increasing fiber intake and hydration should alleviate the symptom.
If a patient has noticed the onset of bloody stool and, after performing a digital rectal exam, their physician finds no evidence of a colon tumor, diet may be the culprit. The physician might ask the patient if they have recently eaten a large quantity of beets or tomatoes. The ingestion of those vegetables can lead to a red-hued stool but obviously, this does not indicate the presence of blood.
Of course, colon cancer and red vegetables do not complete the list of things that create a red-colored stool. If blood from the lower GI tract leaks into the colon, someone could note a bright red color in their stool as well. A ruptured blood vessel at any point within the lower digestive tract belongs among the more serious reasons for blood in stool.
A ruptured blood vessel in the esophagus, the stomach, or the first section of the small intestine could also lead to bloody stool; yet, such damage would not necessarily produce a red colored stool. If blood from the upper digestive tract mixes with digestive juices, it forms a tar-like substance. This leads to the elimination of a bowel movement permeated with black-colored blood.
If you’re now worrying about a recent bowel movement that produced black waste, make sure you rule out a simple explanation before calling a doctor. The ingestion of certain foods (such as black licorice, blueberries, or dark green vegetables) in high amounts can lead to black stool.
The ingestion of any substance containing the element lead leads the body to start eliminating it immediately. The elimination of ingested lead also produces a black-colored stool. Certain medicines (such as Iron and bismuth-containing formulas) can also cause a patient to produce black stool.
CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen—a specific protein produced by certain types of tumor such as colon cancer. A special test detects CEA in a patient’s blood to see if cancer is one of the underlying reasons for blood in stool in that situation.
Until a person reaches the age of 40, colon cancer belongs close to the bottom of the list of reasons for blood in stool. After age 40 however, cancer becomes a more likely cause for bloody waste. In fact, after the age of 40, it’s wise to receive annual rectal exams to help catch cancer before it spreads or causes permanent damage.
The rectal exam can detect cancer at an earlier stage than just observing blood in stool visually. Such an exam can also help to eliminate the possibility the patient has simply ingested some food that irritated his or her bowel, yet another of the reasons for blood in stool.
Just knowing about the test for CEA could save the life of someone over age 40. For anyone over 40, colon cancer needs to remain within their awareness of possible reasons for blood in stool. Production of bloody stool by a person aged 40 or older should signal the necessity of receiving the CEA exam. Therefore, many reasons exist for bloody waste to occur. Not all of these factors are serious in nature, such as those related to diet, but it’s best to report any sudden or prolonged change in bowel habits to a qualified healthcare provider.