So, what causes you to poop blood? To better understand what causes this problem, we need to also find out more about the symptoms and diseases associated with this medical problem.
The occurrence of blood in faeces alarms anyone who confronts with such an experience and is a sign that shouldn`t be ignored because it`s encountered in many pathologies, among which some of them are very severe. Basically, blood in stool shows that there`s a problem in the gastrointestinal tract. The blood may come from any component of the digestive tube, starting from the mouth to the anus.
The severity of bleeding in the stool may vary from mild to severe. If we are talking about a severe bleeding or black faeces, you should visit a doctor immediately or call an ambulance. If bleeding is mild, then is recommended to make an appointment to a gastroenterologist to find the cause of the bleeding.
Any bleeding that occurs in the fecal matters is usually known as rectal bleeding. Still, bleeding in the stool can come from other places than the rectum. For instance, bleeding can occur from any other part of the digestive tube, although it`s more accurate to say “gastrointestinal bleeding.”
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Types of Gastrointestinal Bleeding
To make the difference, we should consider 2 important aspects, which will influence the color of the faeces.
Degree of Severity of Bleeding
The degree can vary from a mild to severe bleeding, life-threatening. In most cases, the bleeding is a mild one, which occurs intermittent and doesn`t represent an immediate risk. However, you should always tell your doctor if you experienced such signs. Sometimes, the bleeding is in such a small quantity that it won`t produces changes in the color of the stools. The existence of blood can be validated through a test of the faeces.
Source of Bleeding
Bleeding can come from anywhere. However, the most common organs are: stomach, colon and anus.
- Stomach – Until being removed by defecation, the blood needs to travel through the small intestine, then the large one. In all this time, the blood changes, becoming darker in color and being combined with faeces. Therefore, the colors of the faeces will be darker, a pasty consistency and will be known as melena. Melena is caused by a bleeding of around 100 – 200 ml (at least) of bleeding in the superior digestive tube.
- Colon – In this situation, the blood is usually mixed with faeces. The colors is dark red, but this isn`t always so. If bleeding is active for a longer period of time, the blood can be fresh and light red and may not be mixed with the faeces as with anus bleeding.
- Anus – The blood coming from the anus or rectum is fresh and has a light color because it has no time to clot and get damaged along the tract. This bleeding in the stool, having a little color, is known as hematochese. The blood may not be mixed with the fecal matters. If it`s not mixed, it`s often noticed the bleeding after the stool or the blood may cover the faeces.
Note: Melena represents a medical emergency and indicates a bleeding that comes from the esophagus, stomach or duodenum.
Bleeding can also be acute (may occur suddenly and can be severe) or chronic (a mild bleeding which lasts longer or may occur intermittently).
There`s also occult bleeding, meaning that we are talking about a bleeding that isn`t visible with an open eye and we need laboratory tests of the faeces to detect it.
Bleeding in the fecal matters represents a sign of a medical condition and not a condition in itself. Thus, the causes of bleeding are many:
- Gastric ulcer – Ulcer represents one of the spring illnesses, with manifestations of stomach burning, sensation of fullness, nausea and bloating. Being caused by the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen) or by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, this medical condition represents a painful inflammation of the stomach`s mucosa. Among the common signs, we remind stomach pain, vomiting, weight loss, nausea, palpitations or lack of appetite. When complications are concerned, blood might occur in the stool.
- Colitis – this represents an inflammation of the colon (a portion of the large intestine) with an acute or chronic character, caused by toxic substances, parasites or infections. There are several types of colitis: ischemic colitis, ulcerative colitis, pseudomembranous colitis. There may be the following signs occurring: abdominal pains or cramps, diarrhea, bleeding in the faeces, bloating, the urgent need to go to the bathroom.
- Oesophageal varices – bleeding can occur in the stool only in severe situations.
- Hemophilia A – it`s the most common blood clotting disorder and is genetically transmitted only from the mother. The defective transduced gene will cause a factor VII deficiency, a factors which intervenes in the coagulation cascade, and so the coagulation isn`t properly performed. It`s characterized by prolonged bleeding even in the case of minor wounds injuries, nasal bleeding, bleeding when urinating or through faeces. Also, there may be some inexplicable bruises that occur.
- Chron`s disease – Also known under the name of “Crohn`s syndrome” or regional enteritis, this is an intestinal inflammatory illness that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, all the way from the mouth to the anus. It`s an illness that is manifested by blood in the stools, pain, diarrhea, and for which until now there isn`t a curative treatment.
- Enterita – It`s an inflammation of the small intestine, which is caused by the indigestion of a bacteria along with contaminated water or foods. The most common bacteria are E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella or Shingella. Enterita may occur after the administration of some drugs that include ibuprofen, radiation therapy or due to some autoimmune illnesses (Chron`s disease). It`s accompanied by abdominal cramps, pain or bleeding from the rectum, vomiting and dizziness.
- Intussusception – it`s a form of intestinal blockage, a part of the intestine folds, obstructing another portion of the intestine. This way, the advancement of the food and their processing in the digestive tube is blocked. It`s an illness that is more common in children (especially boys) and can be easily confused with colitis or other minor digestive issues. This condition represents a medical emergency, which can be life-threatening. The typical signs are: vomiting, stools accompanied by blood, acute abdominal pain, constipation, nausea or lethargy. The blood has the aspect of raspberry jam because it`s combined with mucus.
- Diverticulitis – It represents a medical condition that sometimes is painful, and develops when the diverticulum (which is similar to a pouch), which is formed in the colon wall, is inflamed or gets infected. As specific signs, diverticulitis is accompanied by dizziness, gases, bleeding of light color, constipation, bloating and pain in the left inferior abdomen. This condition can be treated, but will most likely re-appear.
- Colorectal cancer – it`s a cancer that is found in the rectum or colon, both being located in the inferior part of the digestive system. The signs include: changes of the bowel movements, thus peristalsis (bowel movement) won`t function properly and constipation occurs, which alternates with diarrhea, faeces accompanied by blood and bleeding in the rectum, weakness, abdominal pain, tiredness and weight loss. – Learn more info!
- Anal cancer – For a long time, anal cancer wasn`t considered a separate pathology, but rather a form of rectal cancer. There are several types of tumors that may develop here (benign tumors, various forms of carcinomas). This triggering of normal cell transformation into cancerous cells is believed to be caused by HPV virus, which is sexually transmitted. Signs of anal cancer include similar to hemorrhoids, illnesses of the digestive system or irritable bowel syndrome. There were some patients describing a sensation of pressure or the presence of a nodule near the anus.
- Colorectal polyps – these represent growths in the large intestine. They might look flat or high, and they may be cancerous and benign. The cancerous ones may lead to colorectal cancer, if they aren`t found early to be surgically removed, although not all people experiencing these growths may develop rectal cancer. Rectal polyps are accompanied by diarrhea and constipation that lasts for more than a week, anal bleeding and blood in stools.
- Hemorrhoids – these are blood vessels that are located in the rectal area and they get unusually swollen. They vary in size from a pea to a grape, and they may be located inside the rectum or outside the anus. They are more commonly encountered during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester, some women confronting with them for their first time, other ones confronting with them several times, appearing in the pushing period of labor and representing a real discomfort. Although they are painful, most of the time they heal on their own without any treatment. If they occur frequently, they may lead to anemia due to loss of blood.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms associated with rectal bleeding differ depending on the severity of the bleeding and its location.
Bleeding in the superior or inferior part of the digestive tube may include:
- Black stools.
- Dark or light color blood in the faeces.
- Difficulty breathing
- Coffee-like vomiting.
- Abdominal pains.
People confronting with acute bleeding may enter into shock, which is a medical emergency. As signs: tachycardia, low blood pressure, the patient is unconscious, absent or low quantity of urine.
Chronic bleeding leads more often to anemia, which refers to a decrease of hemoglobin concentration accompanied or not by a decrease in the red blood cell number.
Hemorrhage localization is performed based on:
- Familial medical history.
- Physical examination.
- Laboratory tests – here we can talk about blood tests (it may be determined if the patent has anemia and the bleeding degree) or tests of the faeces (they may detect occult bleeding).
- Endoscopy – this is the procedure that implies the usage of a device known as endoscope, which is a small and flexible tube that has a light and a camera to visualize the superior digestive tract. This is inserted with much attention through the mouth, passes through the esophagus and then reaches the stomach. Usually, this is a procedure that is performed under local anesthesia. After this particular investigation, it can also be obtained a biopsy sample that will be sent for histopathology analysis.
- Enteroscopy – based on the same procedure. This is a specific procedure for the small intestine.
- Endoscopy with video capsule – For this particular medical investigation, the patient needs to swallow a capsule that contains a small video camera. While passing through the digestive tube, this offers images that are recorded on a device and seen by the doctor. – Read more!
- Colonoscopy – It`s a medical procedure that implies the usage of a flexible and narrow tube, which has a light and a camera that will send images to a monitor. This is known as colonoscope and allows the visualization of the rectum and the whole colon. The patient will be lying down on one side. The gastroenterologist will introduce the colonoscope through the anus and will guide it through the rectum and colon. Colonoscopy requires the preparation of the patient with 1 to 3 days in advance before the medical investigation, because this can only be done if the intestine contains a small amount of faeces or no faeces at all. So, there will be drugs that will increase the intestinal peristalsis and will lead to the bowel emptying.
- Abdominal CT (computerised tomography) – For this medical investigation, there may be administered a contrast substance to the patient.
The treatment will be prescribed depending on the cause and localization of bleeding. Each medical condition that is associated with bleeding in the stool has a certain treatment. Also, during a colonoscopy, endoscopy and laparotomy, bleeding can be stopped by introducing some medications that will stop hemorrhage, by closing the affected vessels with some clamps.
As already mentioned, depending on the cause, treatment might involve very simple things that you can do by yourself. They include following a high-fiber diet to relieve the sensations of constipation which may aggravate anal fissures or hemorrhoids, as well as sitting in hot baths to relieve anal fissures.
A doctor will be able to prescribe treatment based on his diagnosis.
- Bleeding may occur in any part of the digestive system.
- It`s a sign of a medical condition and not an illnesses in itself.
- There are a variety of illnesses that may cause bleeding in the digestive tract.
- Locating the source of bleeding is a major step in detecting its cause.
- The treatment depends on the cause and location of bleeding.