Blood in Stool

Blood in the stool means there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. It may be obvious to the eye or unnoticeable. Sometimes the amount of blood is so small that it can only be detected by a fecal occult test. At other times it may be visible on toilet tissue or in the toilet after a bowel movement.

Possible causes of blood in stool include:

  • Hemorrhoids. Swollen veins in the anal canal. More than half the U.S. population will develop hemorrhoids.
  • Diverticular disease. Diverticula are small pouches that project from the colon wall. Usually diverticula don't cause problems, but sometimes they can bleed or become infected.
  • Anal fissure. A small cut or tear in the tissue lining the anus similar to the cracks that occur in chapped lips or a paper cut. Fissures are often caused by passing a large, hard stool and can be painful.
  • Ulcerative colitis. Inflammation of the colon. Among the more common causes are infections or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Polyps or cancer. Polyps are benign growths that can grow, bleed, and become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It often causes bright red bleeding or even bleeding that is not noticeable with the naked eye.

It is important to have our doctors evaluate any bleeding in the stool. Any details you can give about the bleeding will help us locate the site of bleeding.
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