Colon Cancer and Bloody Stool

Colon cancer

Endoscopic image of colon cancer in the sigmoid colon

Hematochezia or blood in stool can signify various medical conditions that a person needs to be aware of. While the common causes of bloody stool can either be anal fissures or hemorrhoids, sometimes it can represent serious health conditions like colon cancer.

However, the problem with colon cancer is it is asymptomatic. A patient will not feel any signs and symptoms until it is too late to address the cancer. Moreover, some of its common symptoms can be associated with other rectal diseases such as diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and constipation. Given that, a patient can still determine if he/she has colon cancer by understanding its causes, how it progresses, and what treatment options are available.

Understanding Colon Cancer

Just like any cancer types, colon cancer results from extra or abnormal growth of cells in the colon or rectum region. This particular cancer type starts with polyps or tissue growth in the colon. Polyps can either be cancerous or not. The type of polyp that develops into cancer is the adenoma. If the doctor sees these polyps early on, he/she can remove this through surgery to prevent it from becoming cancer.

According to data from the American Cancer Society, more than 95 percent of colon and rectal cancers are called as adenocarcinomas. They develop in the cells that are found inside the rectum and colon. If not treated early, they can progress to colon cancer.

In the United States, about 10 percent of the population dies from colon cancer. As a matter of fact, colon cancer is considered as the third most diagnosed cancer across the globe.

Possible causes of colon cancer

While the possible causes of colon cancer are yet to be determined, scientists have identified certain risk factors for having it, and they are the following:

  • Old age. People aged 50 years old and above are more at risk of getting colon cancer.
  • History of bowel diseases
  • Acquiring polyps in the past
  • Family history of cancer, especially colon cancer
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
  • Ethnic background

There are also certain activities that people do that can increase their risk for having colon cancer such as drinking too much alcohol and smoking.

Signs and Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, colon cancer goes without any severe signs and symptoms. But here are several changes that a person should be aware of:

  • Change in bowel movement. If passing of stool is more frequent or less than the usual, this can be a telltale sign of colon cancer.
  • Alternating days of constipation and diarrhea
  • Stools that is thinner than the usual. This means that there is a blockage in the pathway of the anus.
  • Bloating, cramps, abdominal pains, and gas pains
  • Blood in the stools or black stools

Aside from these changes in the colon system, there are also other systemic symptoms of colon cancer and they are the following:

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Loss of appetite and fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Jaundice

Early detection of colon cancer

Undergoing tests can help doctors in detecting at what stage of colon cancer the patient is already in. Some of the tests that should be done to confirm colon cancer include the following:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Virtual colonoscopy
  • Double contrast barium enema
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Aside from these, there are specific tests such as fecal immunochemical test, fecal occult blood test, and immunochemical fecal blood occult blood test can detect colon cancer only.

Treatment and Prevention of Colon Cancer

Early detection is an effective way of preventing colon cancer from developing. If the physician suspects that a patient has polyps in the rectum and anus, surgery should be done to remove the polyps whether they are cancerous or not. There are times also wherein chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy are needed to prevent the cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

Regarding prevention, most cases of colon cancer can be prevented through lifestyle changes and health monitoring.




Crohn’s Disease and Bloody Stool

ChronInflammatory disorders in the intestine area can result to blood in stools. For example, conditions like Crohn’s disease can affect the gastrointestinal tract that can manifest symptoms such as bloody stools, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If of all these symptoms will be present in the patient, then perhaps going to a physician is a sensible thing that he can do to address these problems and prevent it from becoming worse.

Speaking of bloody stools, a health threat that can cause such, as mentioned, is Crohn’s disease. This particular condition is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract. The problem with Crohn’s disease is that it spreads to the different layers of the bowel tissue making the disease unbearable and painful on the part of the person affected. Moreover, the symptoms can progress to other complications that can be life-threatening.

Sad to say, there is no current cure for this disease. The best things that a patient can avail of to ease the pain are the various treatment options available. These therapies can significantly make a Crohn’s disease patient feel better.

What Causes Crohn’s Disease?

The causes of Crohn’s disease remain yet to be discovered. This is precisely why there are no treatment options available because scientists and doctors are not sure of where this disease comes from. There were previous researches and studies claiming that the causes of this disease are poor diet and high stress levels, but these are very vague.

Nowadays, it seems like researchers believe that poor and suppressed immune system and heredity are the factors that cause Crohn’s disease.

  1. Heredity – Mutations of the NOD2 gene are present among people with Crohn’s disease.
  2. Immune system – Once the immune system is suppressed, bacteria can get in and attack your body. If the body is working to fight off the bacteria, the digestive tract gets inflamed.

Aside from these two possible causes, here are several risk factors for developing Crohn’s disease: family history, age, cigarette smoking, ethnicity, and use of isotretinoin (Accutane) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Common Signs and Symptoms

Besides blood in stool, abdominal pain, loose bowel movement or diarrhea, some of the common signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease may include any of the following:

  • Serious bleeding that can lead to anemia
  • Skin problems
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Eye inflammation

Take note that these symptoms are recurring. And once they happen again, they become more persistent. Malnutrition, fistulas, ulcers, and other health conditions like arthritis are just some of the complications brought about by Crohn’s disease.

Ways on How Crohn’s Disease is Diagnosed

If a patient experienced the mentioned signs and symptoms, visiting your physician is the first thing that should be done. The doctor will have to make the patient undergo several thorough examinations and tests to diagnose or rule out Crohn’s disease.

The patient will have to provide stool sample so that the doctor can send this to the laboratory for further testing. Besides that an upper gastrointestinal series will also be done to monitor and examine the small intestine. Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy will be performed as well.

Treating Crohn’s Disease

As mentioned earlier, there are no cures yet for this disease but there are drugs that can help in controlling the infection, inflammation, and prevent the disease from becoming worse. Some drugs that the patient can take are:

  • Cortisone or steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammation drugs
  • Anti-diarrhea medications
  • Fluid replacements
  • Immune system suppressors

Nutritional supplementation is also advised, especially among children with the disease. This will help them fight off malnutrition and growth stunt.

Regarding surgery, about 2/3 of patients with Crohn’s disease will have to undergo surgery  at some point. If the doctors see that medicines are not effective anymore in controlling the condition, surgery is the only option left. However, it is important to note that Crohn’s disease may persist again.


Hemorrhoids and Bloody Stool

Hemorrhoids

Endoscopic image of internal hemorrhoids seen on retroflexion of the flexible sigmoidoscope at the ano-rectal junction

There are various health conditions that can lead to bloody stools. They can be minor or very serious depending on the color of one’s stool. A blackened stool usually means that the complication is from the gastrointestinal tract, whereas bloody stool can signify complications in the rectum.

Red blood in the stool comes mostly from tears in the rectum caused by hemorrhoids. Otherwise known as piles, hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins in the rectum that result from too much strain during bowel movement, childbearing and labor, among others.

Hemorrhoids are very common. As a matter of fact, based from data coming from the National Institutes of Health, about 50 percent of the population of the United States aged 50 and above have hemorrhoids.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

Hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids can be found inside the rectum and do not usually cause too much pain. However, irritation because of bowel movement and hard stool may inflame the hemorrhoids that can lead to bleeding. On worse cases, too much straining may push the hemorrhoids out of the rectum to the opening of the anus. This can be very painful for the affected person.

On the other hand, external hemorrhoids manifest itself as skin tags or excess skin surrounding the anus. They are very itchy when irritated. Symptoms and signs of hemorrhoids will depend on the location.

  • Bleeding during bowel movement without pain
  • Irritation surrounding the anal area
  • Swelling in the anus
  • Painful lump near the anus
  • Leaking of stool

Once a person sees blood in stool, seeing a doctor is a must. It is not safe to assume that hemorrhoids is the cause because rectal bleeding can take place with other diseases as well.

Possible Causes of Hemorrhoids

Stretching because of too much pressure is the main culprit in getting hemorrhoids. Once a person exerts too much effort in bowel movement, this translates to too much pressure in the rectum that can affect the veins and make them enlarged. Constipation thereby is one of the main causes of hemorrhoids.

Aside from that, other possible causes of hemorrhoids include health conditions such as obesity, pregnancy, chronic diarrhea, and anal intercourse.

There are also studies suggesting that hemorrhoids come with age. Elderly people are prone to constipation because of the normal degenerative phase of the body that comes with aging. As a person gets old, the tissues that aid the veins in the rectum grow weak. Other researches claim that hemorrhoids can be inherited as well.

If these signs and symptoms are not addressed immediately, it can lead to serious complications. One of which is anemia. Decreased presence of healthy red cells because of chronic blood loss from hemorrhoids can make a person weak. Another complication is called strangulated hemorrhoid that is caused by low blood supply to the rectum. This causes severe pain and may lead to tissue death in some cases.

How Hemorrhoids are Diagnosed?

An appointment to a physician will give the patient several ways of dealing with hemorrhoids and at the same time prevent other complications. The doctor will observe the anus and the rectum to verify if the patient really has hemorrhoids. Certain health conditions such as warts, fissures, and polyps can manifest the same signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Aside from physical examinations, there are additional tests that should be done especially among people aged 40 and up and they are the following: barium enema x-ray, colonoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy.

Treating Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can be treated easily. Simple lifestyle and diet changes can significantly reduce most symptoms of hemorrhoids. Increasing fiber in the diet to promote good bowel movement can prevent hemorrhoids from getting irritated.

Adequate water intake is also highly recommended. About eight to 10 glasses of water in a day will suffice. As well as proper exercise. There are studies closely linking the importance of exercise in preventing constipation. Once the patient get rids of constipation, then there will be fewer episodes with hemorrhoids.

Some patients will be advised by their physician to take in medications and suppositories to soften the stool. But during worse-case scenarios, surgery might be needed.

References:




Anal Fissure and Bloody Stool

Anal fissure

An anal fissure

Blood manifestations in the stool can warrant concern on the part of the affected individual. Although these bloody stools can mean anything from tears in the anus or gastrointestinal tract diseases. Most people will panic immediately and take this as a sign of colon cancer when in fact there are other rectal disorders out there.

It is important to note that not all blood in stool is connected with cancer. It could be other cases like anal fissure. If a person has anal fissure, it means that there is a small tear or split in the skin of his/her anus. This can be really painful and many people complain as well of finding blood in their underwear or in the toilet paper they used.

Possible causes of anal fissure

Anal fissure is caused by over-stretching of the anal mucosa. This usually happens if a person is constipated, especially if he/she is exerting too much effort to get rid of the stool. This can also happen to women who recently gave birth because child delivery causes the anal mucosa to stretch beyond its capacity. But in both adults and babies, constipation is the top cause for having anal fissure.

Aside from that, a decrease in the blood supply in the anal mucosa can also lead to anal fissure. Once blood supply is low, this can cause spasms in the anal sphincter. These spasms can put unnecessary force in the anal area, thereby resulting to tears or splits along the skin.

Anal fissures can also be caused by anal sex, tuberculosis, and syphilis, although cases coming from these causes are very rare.

Signs and symptoms

Some of the symptoms of anal fissure may include the following:

  • Severe pain during bowel movement
  • Lasting pain after stool passing that lasts for a couple of hours
  • Red blood in the stool
  • Irritation and itching along the anus area.
  • Skin tag or lump near the anus
  • Visible crack in the anus

If a person began to feel any of the following signs, a visit to a physician is very much advised. The doctor will prescribe medications that will address constipation, lessen the spasms, or determine if surgery is needed.

Addressing and treating anal fissure

Most of anal fissure cases go undetected during the early weeks as most people tend to dismiss the early symptoms that they feel such as pain in bowel movements. Some anal fissures are also difficult to detect because they resemble paper cut, thereby they are too small to be seen. There are also some tears that heal on their own. The following methods can heal most cases of anal fissures:

  • Taking stool softeners and medications to lessen constipation
  • Cleansing the affected area more frequently with the use of gentle cleansers and clean water to lessen complications
  • Using muscle relaxants that can be applied on the skin
  • Sitz baths may also help a lot

If anal fissures were caused by constipation, the physician will recommend certain medications to address constipation. This will help a person pass stool easily so that the pressure in the anal area will be lessened. This will help heal the tears along the anal mucosa. But for worse cases, surgery is needed to relief discomfort.

Prevention of anal fissure

Treating constipation promptly is the best way to avoid first onset of anal fissure. This condition generally heals given a few weeks time, but for some people it may lead to chronic anal fissure. Calling a health-care provider and seeking for his/her advice is needed if a person begins to feel symptoms.


Diverticulitis and Bloody Stool

Diverticula

Multiple diverticlula in the sigmoid colon

Having blood in one’s stool can be attributed to various health conditions, and one of which is diverticulitis. What exactly is diverticulitis? This condition refers to inflamed sacs that can be found in the inner lining of the intestine. Diverticulitis presents itself as sacs or small pockets. They are usually found in the colon or in the large intestine.

The cause of diverticulitis remains unknown. But there have been researches linking poor diet in developing the sacs in the colon. The blood appears in the stool once these sacs explode inside the colon.

What causes diverticulitis?

As mentioned earlier, the cause still needs to be further investigated. However, one of the strongest links in the development of diverticulitis is poor diet. There have been studies suggesting that people with low fiber in their daily diets are more prone in developing these sacs in their colon. Moreover, people who consume more processed foods are at risk of diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis begins when a person experiences constipation or hard passing of stools. Whenever there is pressure in the colon, these sacs are being formed from the lining of the intestine. This intraluminal colonic pressure is the culprit for the development of sacs or diverticula.

In male adults, doctors found out that a diet of nuts and corn can help stop the progression of this health condition. But the key to avoid diverticulitis is to do some diet modification and increase fiber to avoid putting much pressure in the colon during passing of stools.

The common symptoms of diverticulitis

Just like majority of bowel disorders, diverticulitis presents with little or no symptoms at all. Most of its signs and symptoms can be associated with minor complications like constipation. Otherwise, here are some of the general conditions that a person needs to be aware of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Colon bleeding
  • Bloody stools
  • Pus in the pelvis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Gas and bloating

If in case a person suspects him/her self having diverticulitis, the best way to rule out the disease is with the help of a physician. The general doctor will be able to conclude and properly diagnose the disease to address it properly.

Ways in which diverticulitis is diagnosed

The doctor will usually advise a patient to undergo a computed tomography scan or CT scan. This particular test is very accurate in determining cases of diverticulitis with a rate of 98 percent. The images obtained through the scan will help the doctors see if there are really sacs in the colon and if these sacs have ruptured.

Patients with severe cases of diverticulitis will also be able to receive the healthcare that they need once the physician has seen the results of the CT scan. Ultrasound and x-rays can also help, but CT scan is better in terms of examining the real condition of the colon.

Possible treatment options

Treatment options for people suffering with diverticulitis vary depending on the severity of their condition. Some people may require hospital stay based on doctor’s advice, while some patients may just need to take some time to themselves and rest. There may also be a need for diet modifications that should be followed to ease the symptoms associated with diverticulitis. Moreover, other patients may be required to take antibiotics.

Bed rest, adequate fluid intake, and avoiding caffeine altogether will actually do a patient a lot of good.

Outlook about diverticulitis is great. Actually, this is just a mild condition that can be attended to easily. It is just important to note that diverticulitis should be addressed immediately before it can lead to complications such as colon tears or stricture.



Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Bloody Stools

Purpura

Skin symptoms of ITP

Having bloody stools can be really frightening, especially if the patient is not sure of the exact cause of the bleeding. Bleeding can happen everywhere in the body. It may start within the gastrointestinal tract, in the small or large intestine, or within the rectum or anus. Nobody really knows until the doctor gives you the diagnosis based on the results of the tests the patient went through.

Aside from constipation, hemorrhoids, anal fissure, and the like another possible disease that can lead to bloody stools is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. From the very term “idiopathic” which means unknown; the cause of the disease is still a mystery to most doctors. This condition is the state of having very low levels of platelets in the body that can be considered as abnormal already.

A person suffering from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura has good set of normal blood cells. The only problem really is the platelet count. This is why if a patient has idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, he/she must not get bruised because it will lead to excessive bleeding.

Possible causes of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

One of the possible causes of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is suppressed immune system. If a person has a very weak body, infections are easily acquired and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is one of them.

In children, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura usually occurs after the body gets some sort of viral infection. Meanwhile, adults acquire idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura during infection, immune disorder during pregnancy, and brought about by certain drugs. Between the two, children are more at risk, as well as women.

Early signs and symptoms

As with every health condition or disease, early manifestations such as signs and symptoms should be watched out for. This will give the patient the edge over the disease, because he/she can easily visit a doctor. Some of the common signs and symptoms of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura include the following:

  • Bloody stools
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding among females
  • Red, itchy spots in the body
  • Excessive bruising in any parts of the body
  • Unexplained nose or gum bleeding
  • Having wounds or cuts that take more time to clot and heal

If some of these symptoms are present, always remember to keep a clear head and visit your physician as soon as possible. While bloody stool is a sign and symptom, it does not necessarily translate to idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Proper diagnosing of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

A check-up visit to a physician will give patients the relief that they want. In order to determine if a patient has idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, the physician will do a series of tests. One of which is a physical examination, this will let him check the wounds, rashes, or any physical manifestations of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in your body.

A complete blood count (CBC) may also be required to check if the patient has abnormal levels of platelets in the body. Besides the CBC, a blood smear can also be performed.

Treating idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Among children, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura typically goes on its own. Most affected children need some sort of treatment in order for them to get better. On the other hand, adults will usually be given an anti-inflammatory steroid medicine (prednisone). In worst cases, surgery to remove the spleen will be required.

Apart from prednisone, there are other treatments that can be prescribed by the doctor if the condition does not improve. The goal of treating idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is to prevent any complications such as bleeding in the brain or severe blood loss.

In general, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is very curable, provided that the patient will work closely with the physician to achieve good health.



Peptic Ulcer and Bloody Stools

Gastric ulcer

Gastric ulcer with bleeding

As mentioned earlier, peptic ulcer happens if there are abnormalities involving the intestines. Peptic ulcer happens once the lining surrounding and protecting the intestines thin down. Once the lining breaks, there will be a formation of ulcer.

Most ulcers go undetected since they happen within the first lining. Once the lining gets thinner, a hole called perforation will be developed. If this happens, this warrants immediate medical concern.

What makes a person at risk for developing peptic ulcer is if the stomach is infected by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Even though most people have this bacteria living in their body, not all lead to peptic ulcer unless the person is guilty of the following:

  • Too much alcohol intake
  • Constant use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin
  • Smoking cigarettes or tobacco
  • Undergoing radiation treatments

It is also said that high stress levels can lead to peptic ulcer. But there are no clinical studies up to date that supports this claim.

Most common signs and symptoms of peptic ulcer

Bloody stools can mean anything. Before a patient concludes peptic ulcer, here are other signs and symptoms that can happen as well that the patient needs to watch out for:

  • Discomfort and pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain in the abdominal area that is very disturbing at night
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme hunger pangs
  • Extreme feelings of fullness
  • Not being able to drink fluid a lot
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss

Even though a patient experiences all these things, doing tests and undergoing laboratory works are highly recommended.

Proper diagnosis of peptic ulcer

As with any disease, it is a must for the doctor to carefully diagnose the patient. This will help the physician deliver the proper healthcare deserved by the patient. And in turn, the patient will get well better because he/she will be receiving the treatments needed.

Some of the tests that the patient will have to go through may include the following:

  • Esophagogasduodenoscopy (ECG) – This is done by a gastroenterologist with the use of a special tube with a small camera attached to it. The doctor, with the use of the camera, will be able to see if there are any damages in the intestines.
  • Upper GI – The patient will be given a drink called barium before a series of x-ray tests will be conducted.
  • Stool guaiac – This test will measure the blood in the patient’s stool.
  • Hemoglobin – This will check the blood for any signs of anemia.

Treatment options

Treating peptic ulcer involves killing of the h. pylori bacteria. The doctor will also advice the patient suffering with peptic ulcer to take medications that will reduce the acid levels in the body. Antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors will have to be taken for a minimum of eight weeks. Of course, constant observation by the physician is highly needed.


Melena or Black Tarry Stool

There are a whole lot of health conditions that can happen inside the body. While things such as bruises, wounds, and other physical injuries can be easily addressed, disorders inside the body particularly in the digestive tract sometimes go unnoticed until too late.

One of the possible indicators of injury inside the gastrointestinal tract is appearance of melena or bloody stool. The term “melena” is used to describe the appearance of stool. If it smells foul and appears black, this warrants immediate health-care concern. Only the doctor has a good idea of why there is manifestation of melena. It could be from a certain type of food that the patient digested or it could represent infection somewhere in the intestine.

Possible causes of melena

Having black stool can mean anything. As mentioned earlier, it could be because the patient consumed foods that contain any of the following: black licorice, iron pills, bismuth-based medicines, and lead. Aside from that, possible root of melena can be:

  • Damage in the esophagus because of extreme vomiting
  • Irregular blood flow in the intestine area
  • Trauma in the body
  • Bleeding stomach
  • Ulcer
  • Abnormal blood vessel growth
  • Overstretching of the blood vessel Gastritis or inflammation in the lining of the stomach

However, there are certain cases wherein patients mistake bloody stools for black stool. If the patient sees blood, as in reddish stool, this means that the problem may be coming from the anus. On the other hand, if it is black in color this signifies that the infection is near the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is safe to say that the reason why the stool blackened is because the infection has been there for a while and needs to be treated immediately to prevent further complication.

The right time to call your physician

If the patient is not taking iron pills, the stool has no right to go black because this is very unusual. Paying a visit to the physician is a must. The doctor will perform several tests to determine the cause of melena. For example, the patient thinks that the cause of black stool is because of something he/she ate or because of hemorrhoids, the patient still needs to be examined by the doctor to rule out any complications and if there are some, to treat these health-care conditions as early as possible.

Say the patient is a child; normally the cause of black stool is constipation. But just to be on the safe side, go to the doctor.

Right diagnosing and treatment of melena

Just having black tarry stool is not a good indicator in determining the disease. With that, the doctor will have to perform several tests as well as medical background and check to properly give the possible reasons for having black stool.

A rectal exam can be done within the comforts of the doctor’s office. Once it is confirmed as melena, the doctor will most likely request for other diagnostic tests to be done such as barium studies, blood tests, stool culture, x-rays, colonoscopy, and gastroscopy. The results of these tests will assist the doctor in terms of giving the patient the right treatment for him/her.

Treatment varies on the severity of melena, if the doctor thinks that the patient lost too much blood, then blood transfusion will be required. The patient might also need to undergo some medical processes such as    interventional radiography embolization. This is the act of blocking the vessels in the body that causes the bleeding. Patients with such conditions may also be given antibiotics to lessen the acidity in the intestine and stomach area. But when all else fails, surgery is the last option.


Meckel’s Diverticulum and Bloody Stool

Meckel's diverticulum

Meckel's diverticulum

Most times, many people will usually ignore first onset of bloody stools until the next case happens again and again. With all the number of possible causes of bloody stool, only a few are known like constipation. Among children, seeing bloody stools is already a cause for concern, especially if the reason for it is Meckel’s diverticulum.

Many are not familiar with Meckel’s diverticulum simply because this health condition is not very usual. As a matter of fact, figures show that people with Meckel’s diverticulum comprises only about 2 percent of the population. There are also certain instances wherein people will go about their lives without knowing that they have Meckel’s diverticulum.

What causes Meckel’s Diverticulum?

So what exactly is Meckel’s diverticulum? Meckel’s diverticulum is one of the most common birth defects of the digestive system. This happens during the formation of the embryo. If some parts of the digestive tract fail to be absorbed once again by the body, this will transform into a little pouch at the end of the intestine. Meckel’s diverticulum is therefore considered a congenital disease.

Pressing Signs and Symptoms of Meckel’s Diverticulum

One of the main reasons why a person needs to be aware of Meckel’s diverticulum is that it can be really difficult and dangerous for children. However, the problem with Meckel’s diverticulum is that it is asymptomatic. In other words, the affected person will not feel anything unless the following symptoms appear:

  •  Rectal bleeding
  • Melena or black stools
  •  Bloody stools
  • Bloating
  • Extreme pain in the lower abdomen

A person also with Meckel’s diverticulum may mistake the symptoms for appendicitis such as intussusception, intestinal obstruction, and volvulus. Once the Meckel’s Diverticulum progresses, the affected person may suffer from sleepless nights, given that the pain brought about by Meckel’s diverticulum is too much to take.

In children, the peak age for the signs and symptoms to appear is when the child is an infant and up to two years of age. If nothing was felt during this phase, it might happen again when the child is 10 years old. Boys are more prone at developing the signs and symptoms compared to girls.

One of the reasons why parents and physicians should address and be aware of Meckel’s diverticulum is that in children, the said disease can bring a lot of complications. For instance, if the child lost a lot of blood, he/she might go into a stage of trauma or shock. Moreover, serious complications might occur if the intestine will “dump” waste products in the abdomen.

Exams and Treatments Needed

If a patient begins to feel some of the signs and symptoms, going to a doctor is a wise move. The doctor will conduct the necessary exams to check whether the patient really has Meckel’s Diverticulum. This will also help the doctor assess what type of medical intervention and treatment should be conducted.

Some of the tests that are involved in this include the following:

  • Technetium scan
  •  Hematocrit test
  •  Hemoglobin test
  • Stool smear – This will help determine if there is really presence of blood in the stool. Sometimes, there are certain foods that when a person ate that will make his/her stool reddish that one can easily mistake for blood.

Regarding the possible treatment, most cases of Meckel’s diverticulum go away on its own so the doctors will just address the other health-care concerns that may worsen Meckel’s Diverticulum like constipation. But there are some people with the said disease who will have to undergo the knife, or in other words have a surgery done to remove the pouch in their intestine.


Should I Worry That I Have Blood In My Stool?

Seeing blood in one’s stool can mean anything. It can be simple rectal disorders such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures or it can be as serious as colon cancer. However, the only way that you can determine whether the cause of rectal bleeding is life-threatening or not is through careful examination by a health-care physician.

Possible causes of rectal bleeding

Blood in stool can signify problems in the gastrointestinal tract or within the anus area. By looking at the stool, you will be able to have a clue on where the bleeding started. If you wiped off fresh blood from your anus, this can mean that the bleeding started within the said area. However, if the blood caused your stool to blacken, there is a high chance of internal disorders that perhaps started in the large intestine.

Some of the common causes of blood in stool are not really serious. Things like anal fissures, hemorrhoids and diarrhea can be addressed through simple lifestyle modifications and dietary changes to make the passing of stool easier; whereas colon cancer, Chron’s diseases and the like must be addressed immediately to prevent further complications.

Aside from seeing a physician, it is also important to determine if there is really presence of blood in the stool. Certain foods can make your stool appear red that you can easily mistake for blood. If you have consumed foods such as red gelatin, tomato soup or juice, beets, and any food that has red coloring, these can instantly make the stool appear redder. Therefore, it is vital that you visit a physician and have some tests made.

Available rectal bleeding tests

Some of the tests that you should consider include the following:

1. Colonoscopy – This test is usually conducted to detect or rule out any possibilities of colon cancer. Colonoscopy is done while the patient is sedated. The physician will use a colonscope into the anus to take a look at the entire colon. Before you undergo this test, you need to cleanse out your colon. With that, the doctor will prescribe laxatives for you to take.

2. Anoscopy – Anoscopy is an examination in the lower rectum and anus area. Sedation is not needed here because the test can be done in the clinic of the physician.

3. Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This screening test involves examination of the large intestine to determine the presence of colon polyps. Flexible sigmoidoscopy will only take about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Rectal examination – There are certain cases wherein the physician can instantly see the cause of rectal bleeding through simple examination as this. If there are any hemorrhoids, anal tears or fissures, it can be easily seen during rectal examination.

Going to a general physician or a family medicine doctor is the first step that you should consider. The family physician will conduct a physical examination, take your medical history, and do the necessary recommendations to a specialist who can understand your health condition better.

Possible treatment options

Treatment for rectal bleeding varies. For example, if your physician tells you that the cause of rectal bleeding is due to constipation. Then you can do the needed lifestyle changes such as drinking plenty of water, taking in more fiber, drinking laxatives to soften the stools, exercising, and cleaning the skin around the anus everyday. But in worse cases, sometimes surgery is needed to be performed to lessen the pain on the part of the patient.
Blood in your stool should not be ignored rather it should be addressed immediately. If you see blood in your stool, do not hesitate to pay a visit to a physician so that it can be properly diagnosed.

References:

  • http://firstaid.webmd.com/rectal-bleeding-treatment
  • http://www.methodsofhealing.com/should-i-worry-that-i-have-blood-in-my-stool/