What Causes Blood in Stool?
Blood in the stool often comes from the lower intestine (colon), rectum, or anus and may be noticed when you see blood in the toilet or on toilet paper after wiping following a bowel movement.
Common causes of blood in the stool that are not serious include:
- Hemorrhoids: swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus that can cause pain, itching, and sometimes bleeding
- Anal fissure: a tear in the lining of the anus that may cause a sensation of tearing, ripping, or burning pain during or after a bowel movement
Serious causes of blood in the stool are less common and include:
- Precancerous polyps near the end of the large intestine (colon)
- Colorectal cancer
- Other causes
When to See a Doctor for Rectal Bleeding
See a doctor if you have blood in the stool and along with:
What Are Symptoms of Blood in Stool?
Symptoms of blood in the stool include:
- Visible blood in the toilet after a bowel movement
- Visible blood on toilet paper after wiping following a bowel movement
- Red- or maroon-colored stool
Depending on the cause, symptoms that may accompany blood in the stool include:
How Is Blood in Stool Diagnosed?
The cause of blood in the stool is diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam that usually involves a rectal examination.
- Other rests to help diagnose the cause of blood in the stool include
- Anoscopy to inspect the anal canal and lower rectum: this is usually an office procedure that does not require sedation
- Sigmoidoscopy to examine the rectum and most of the lower large intestine
- Colonoscopy to examine the entire colon
- Wireless capsule endoscopy
- Push enteroscopy
- Double-balloon enteroscopy
- Radionuclide scans
- Blood tests
- Complete blood cell (CBC) count
- Electrolyte levels
- Coagulation profile
What Is the Treatment for Blood in Stool?
Treatment for blood in the stool depends on the cause.
- Anal fissure
- Precancerous polyps
- Surgical removal of polyps (polypectomy)
- Colorectal cancer
- Diet changes
- Avoid medications that worsen symptoms including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve)
- Topical medications applied directly to the rectum
- 5-ASA (aminosalicylic acid or mesalamine)
- Topical or oral steroid medications
- Oral 5-ASA
- Biologics: adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade, Inflectra, Renflexis), and vedolizumab (Entyvio)
- Intravenous steroids for severe cases
- Other medications: tofacitinib or cyclosporine
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