Seeing blood in the stool, toilet water or tissue paper after bowel movement is a common experience. In fact, thousands of people are experiencing it every day. Some people are not even aware that there is blood in their stool until they undergo medical tests like fecal occult blood test.
It is normal that you will be surprised and alarmed when you see blood in your stool. You begin to associate it with colon cancer and other life-threatening diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Although rectal bleeding is one of the symptoms of colon cancer, most of its causes are not life threatening.
Instead of panicking, schedule an appointment to your doctor. There are medical tests that will determine the cause and location of bleeding. Once the cause and location of the bleeding are identified, you will then be given the needed medical treatments to stop the bleeding and prevent rebleeding.
Your age, symptoms, and past medical history will help your doctor determine the best medical test for your rectal bleeding. The purpose of medical tests is to diagnose the cause and location of the bleeding. Treatment will only be administered when your doctor knows the specific condition that is causing the bleeding and its accurate location in the digestive tract. One or combination of the following diagnostic tests will be performed into you:
Causes of Blood In Stool
The usual cause of moderate to severe rectal bleeding in teenagers and young adults is Meckel’s diverticulum. While for older individuals, the common cause is angiodysplasias or diverticulosis.
Bleeding with abdominal pain is not associated to Meckel’s diverticula, angiodysplasias, or diverticulosis but associated to ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or colitis due to infection.
Mild bleeding with pain in the anal area during bowel movement suggests bleeding from an anal fissure. The doctor will inspect the anal area to check if anal fissure is causing the bleeding.
Unlike anal fissure, bleeding from hemorrhoids is not painful. A doctor can inspect the anus for the presence of hemorrhoids. However, the doctor cannot be certain that these hemorrhoids are causing the bleeding especially if they are not bleeding during inspection. To be certain, the doctor will perform sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to rule out potentially serious causes of bleeding.
Individuals who lost too much blood due to moderate or severe rectal bleeding need immediate medical attention or hospitalization. They need to receive intravenous fluids and/or blood transfusions to replace the blood that has been lost. Of course, these two treatments are worthless if the bleeding is not quickly stopped. Using diagnostic procedures, the doctor needs to accurately locate the site of bleeding and determine what is causing it. He needs to seal or remove the source of bleeding.
Patients with severe iron deficiency anemia due to rectal bleeding may need hospitalization for blood transfusion followed by prolonged treatment with iron supplements until their condition improves. If the anemia is not severe, taking iron supplements (tablets) would be enough. Of course, the doctor still needs to locate and stop the bleeding and prevent rebleeding.
If the doctor finds diverticular bleeding, he needs to remove the bleeding diverticulum through surgery. However, in case that there are numerous diverticula scattered throughout the colon and the location of the bleeding diverticulum cannot be located, the doctor will perform a colon resection or surgical removal of a section of the colon where the diverticula are found. However, before colon resection is done, the doctor makes sure that the bleeding is caused by diverticula.
Just like diverticula, bleeding colon polyps can also be removed through polypectomy or surgical removal of polyps.
Cauterization is used to seal bleeding angiodysplasias and postpolypectomy ulcers as well as bleeding blood vessels inside diverticula. It is performed during colonoscopy where a cauterizing probe is inserted through the colonoscope.
Treatment for hemorrhoids and anal fissures may include hemorrhoidal creams, sitz baths, and stool softeners. If these local measures do not work, several surgical and nonsurgical treatments are available.
- Rectal bleeding causes, signs, symptoms, and treatments – MedicineNet