Blood in My Stool? Not Cool...
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Many colorectal conditions can be silent and symptoms may present themselves suddenly. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your bowel movements as a part of regularly monitoring your health. We don’t always know what’s going on inside, but we get a better idea when we know what’s coming out.
One very common indicator of a problem, whether big or small, is noticing blood in your stool. But don’t panic if you’ve seen blood when you poop. Instead, start a conversation with your doctor. Prevention is key to living a long and happy life, so don’t be afraid to have an uncomfortable conversation. It could save your life or even just help you live better day to day.
A colorectal specialist or a gastrointestinal specialist is where you should start first. Skip the wait and save the money finding this out from your primary care doctor. A colon and rectal specialist can help not only diagnose your condition, but also can provide any treatment options whether non-surgical or surgical care is needed.
Dr. Shiraz Farooq is here with me today to answer those questions about when you noticed blood during bowel movements.
From a patient’s perspective blood is always scary. How should I react to noticing blood in the toilet? Should I be concerned about blood in my stool?
Bright red blood in the stool or rectal bleeding is an alarming symptom for some when it happens the first time. Mostly it is painless and we only notice some bloody smears or a few drops in the toilet bowel. Sometimes, however, even a few drops of blood can make a toilet bowl red and scary. For some patients, losing blood is a common daily practice because their colonic and gastrointestinal region is inflamed and it causes bloody diarrhea. All in all, it is not a pleasant experience by most patients. After you have Googled your symptoms, contact a specialist near you who can identify and correct the problem at the earliest.
Is it ever normal to bleed during a bowel movement? What does blood in stool indicate?
NO. Blood in the stool is always abnormal and indicates that the colon and rectal lining has some injury or inflammation causing the blood vessels to leak blood. Such a problem can be simply due to hemorrhoidal vessels causing the bleeding, other anorectal issues or due to colitis or gastrointestinal inflammation called gastroenteritis. Sometimes colon cancer in the gastrointestinal and colonic tract can cause bleeding. More or less, rectal bleeding means there is a problem of the lower part of the digestive tract, which could be related to many conditions, like hemorrhoids, anal fissure, anal fistula, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, to name a few. It’s best to let a gastrointestinal or a colorectal specialist decide…
Are there foods I should avoid or include in my diet to help prevent bleeding?
Avoid alcohol as it can cause the bleeding to continue, avoid or reduce aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Caffeine and nicotine and soda can also irritate the GI tract, thus reducing or avoiding them can improve symptoms. But the foods you eat cannot necessarily cause or cure your condition.
Add fiber in your diet to promote colonic healing as fiber can be a helpful prebiotic agent. Whole grains, prune juice, flaxseed powder, legumes, dates, lentils and other vegetables can help keep the stools soft and prevent constipation and blockage. Addition of iron rich foods can help also. I have changed the common proverb: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “Two apples a day keeps the proctologist away”.
I am bleeding a lot when I poop. What might be some other symptoms I notice?
Symptoms vary, of course, depending on the actual issue, but with common problems of the colon and rectum it is likely you may notice the following symptoms in addition to anal bleeding: Anal discomfort, sitting pain, rectal swelling, inflammation, difficulty defecating, fecal incontinence, constipation, distention, stomach pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc.
Does constipation cause bleeding of the rectum?
Constipation and excessive straining and pushing to pass a large bowel movement or a hard poop can lead to smears or streaks of blood on the toilet paper. This combined with lack exercise and immobility and not drinking enough water can lead to worsening of symptoms of constipation. Constipation, however, is not the reason you are bleeding. Nor is constipation normal. If you are experiencing chronic or prolonged periods of irregular or difficult bowel movements, don’t wait to ask a proctologist.
Does stress cause rectal bleeding?
Stress can have physiological effects on your body, including indigestion, cramping, bloating, etc. These effects are irritants to your lower digestive tract, and if you have an underlying colorectal condition, they may cause your condition to worsen at times, which may increase your symptoms - like bleeding during bowel movements. Therefore, stress can contribute to rectal bleeding, but does not cause it per se.
Does dehydration cause rectal bleeding?
A low fiber diet in combination with dehydration can result in more straining during bowel movements. This puts pressure on your blood vessels in the rectum and this can cause bleeding when you use the bathroom if you develop hemorrhoids or other anal issues.
Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS cause anal bleeding?
IBS does not typically cause blood in stool. The common symptoms of IBS include: diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, cramping, mucus, and gas. If you have anal bleeding with IBS, schedule an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist.
Can your liver cause blood in your stool?
An unhealthy liver can often go undetected until something emergent occurs at the point of chronic liver failure. Only in such a case of chronic liver failure might you have blood in the stool as a related symptom.
How long should I wait to see a doctor if I find blood when using in the bathroom?
Why wait? If symptoms are appearing there has already been a problem hiding long enough. Take care of yourself by putting your health first. Do not wait. Blood in your poop will not go away on its own.
Will blood in my stool come back?
Depending on your condition, a colorectal doctor can help you determine your treatment plan and expectation for healing. In general, drink more water, eat more plant fiber and avoid straining. Go see your doctors for routine exams. Take your health seriously! Have at least a primary care doctor who knows your history and can connect you with the right specialists when needed.
Contact a proctologist first with any hemorrhoidal problems (hemorrhoid creams don’t work! - try a suppository), if you need a screening colonoscopy, or if you need colorectal surgery. These doctors are here to save your butt!
At ColoWell America, Dr. Farooq specializes in nutrition counseling, and plant medicine eduction and treatment options. He is an expert in the gold-standard treatment for hemorrhoids - Rubber Band Ligation. If you want a Board Certified colorectal specialist in Tampa, who cares about you from top to bottom, contact his amazing team today!
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Tampa’s Experts In Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Care and Medical Marijuana Recommendations.