Blood In Stool - 7 Reasons Found In The Colon

Published: 18th December 2009
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Blood in stool is often discovered with some alarm, accompanied appropriately by exclamations of bloody (adjective, not expletive). Scarlet red dots of blood coat the stools. Crimson red blood besmirches the toilet tissue. Down the legs and into the toilet bowl trickles bright red spots of blood. A sudden bout of panic causes our hearts to miss a beat or two.

But really, there is no reason to be alarmed as the rectal hemorrhaging or bleeding could be the result of any number of 7 possible reasons emanating from the colon. Whilst the 7 causes will be disturbing, they are treatable with diligent attention to ensure early detection and proper treatment. But complacency is not being advocated. Start paying close attention. Without delay, consult your doctor if bleeding and pain lasts for over a week.

The problem can be resolved by applicable treatment once correct diagnosis identifies the precise illness. More alarmingly, blood in stool may find its root origin in some type of cancer.

Hematochezia or Melena

Rectal bleeding may be medically classified as melena (black sticky or tarry stools) or hematochezia (maroon or bright red colored blood). Rectal bleeding may exit via the rectum but the root cause may be in the colon (large intestine) or the small intestine. In the colon, the 7 known causes are cancer, colon polyps, diverticulosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, intestinal ischemia and peptic ulcer.

Colorectal Cancer

With yearlong international fatality toll of 640,000, colorectal cancer ranks as the 3rd leading cancer and also the 3rd most prevalent reason for death. It is the reason why one must see a medical specialist for frequent blood in stool.

Tumours in the colon, appendix and rectum are classified as colorectal cancer. Uncovered mainly via colonoscopy (visual diagnosis with a camera mounted on a flexible tube inserted through the anus), colorectal cancer treatment includes surgical removal accompanied by chemotherapy. Despair not for complete recovery is possible with timely detection. Those over 50 and those with family history of cancers are categorized under the higher risk group. Among the top killer cancers, colorectal cancer affects both men and women indifferently.

Another crucial piece of information needs to be noted. Just the opposite of what you may have read elsewhere, colorectal cancer commonly results in occult (not visible to the naked eye) blood in feces i.e it is NOT a normal cause of visible blood in stool! Bleeding resulting from colorectal cancer may be visible or occult (unobservable by the naked eye), needing special tests for authentication; this based on research by the University of Michigan Health System. Crucial associated symptoms to watch out for are constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, weight loss and constant fatigue.

Colon Polyp

Polyps are frequently benign growths, raised or flat, on the walls of the intestinal tract and the rectum. They are likely to occur in those above 50 years of age and those with a family history of polyps and colorectal cancer. Contributory factors include lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol and smoking. It would seem that no one knows the true culprit.

Whilst benign, polyps are usually excised during colonoscopy as they can turn malignant. Symptoms may not be demonstrated at all in the majority of who have polyps. But in some people, blood in stool happens.

Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis causes pouches (diverticula) to extend out of the colon wall. The reasons behind diverticula, whilst unclear, are speculated to be primarily abnormal colon pressure. Ancillary factors include paucity of dietary fiber. If food gets lodged in diverticula, infection may set in causing diverticulitis. Complications from diverticulitis can result if an infected diverticulum bursts open and disseminates bacteria to the abdominal cavity lining. Peritonitis, which is conceivably fatal, can develop.

Most people with diverticulosis do not see any symptoms at all. Some may be stricken with symptoms of constipation, bloating and mild cramps. Rectal bleeding, nausea and vomiting are the more severe symptoms. The risks of peritonitis reaffirm the view that blood in stool should first be examined by a doctor. Diverticulitis can be effectively diagnosed with a CT (computed tomography) scan.

Ulcerative Colitis

IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, under which colitis is classified, affects the large intestine (colon) and the small intestine. Inflammation in itself is a wholesome reaction of the human body to heal itself in the event of damage to its tissue. Inflammation must not be too little or too much, for if not discontinued, it can proceed to cause wounds to the very tissue it has regenerated. Ulcerative colitis is caused by ulcers which are deterioration of the mucous membrane lining.

Among other symptoms, blood in stool is frequent. Eliminating colitis as the reason behind rectal bleeding is vital as they can become very serious when the colon is perforated.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is an auto-immune disease whereby the body's immune system provokes harmful inflammation by assailing the gastrointestinal tract. From the mouth to the anus, Crohn's disease can arise anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. However, the large intestine (colon) and small intestine, are the usual sites.

Smoking, genetic makeup and industrial environmental exposure are believed to be contributory causal factors even though clear-cut causes are unknown. The symptoms are blood in stool, abdominal cramps, severe bloody diarrhea, blood on toilet tissue or in the toilet bowl, fever and weight loss.

Crohn's disease, also known as granulomatous colitis, can go into remission and reappear sporadically on a life-long basis. There is as of now no known medical cure, whether pharmaceutical or surgical. Early detection is helpful for effectual control of the symptoms and preventing recurrences.

Intestinal Ischemia

Ischemia is a restriction in blood supply to any part of the body. Dysfunctional arteries result in tissue damage due to the deprivation of blood nutrients and oxygen. Ischemic colitis or intestinal ischemia is the inflammation of the large intestine from the insufficiency blood supply which result from low blood pressure, blood vessel constriction or blood clots.

Symptoms include blood in stool, urgent and violent bowel movements, weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, abdominal bloating and fever. Incessant pain requires immediate medical attention to restore regular blood supply to the intestinal tract. It may be necessary to surgically bypass blocked blood vessels and excise blood clots and damaged tissue. Medications include anticoagulants to check blood clot formation and antibiotics to treat infections.

Peptic Ulcer

This is an extremely painful ulcer in the gastrointestinal tract. An ulcer is an deterioration of the mucosal membrane that is at least 0.5cm in diameter. Peptic ulcers generally occur in the duodenum (initial part of the small intestine) and not in the stomach as commonly believed. Peptic ulcers are usually speculated to be caused by a bacterium that inflicts chronic gastritis.

Symptoms include blood in stool (melena), appetite and weight loss, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting blood and intestinal perforation which is dangerous. Potentially deadly peritonitis, which needs emergency surgery, can develop. Treatment of easier cases includes antibiotics to combat the bacteria and antacids to moderate the acidity.

Hemorrhoids

Narrated above are 7 very good reasons for consulting a doctor for a precise diagnosis when rectal bleeding is experienced. Correct treatment and medication, possibly including surgery, can advance the path to recovery.

Lest you be too alarmed by the above narrated causes, blood in stool is most frequently due to the relatively innocuous internal or external hemorrhoids.

Further Reading

If you are interested in finding more about this topic, we have a related post on Bowel Movement Bleeding - Six Possible Causes Of Rectal Bleeding at our site. Do check this out.

Rachel Rich is an ardent supporter of natural remedies and cures before manufactured remedies as these often have incidental effects that are not well communicated. Her wholesome cynicism about big pharma's commercial assertions evolves into affirmative enthusiasm that pushes her into very methodical inquiry before approving any product. Her recommendations are featured at The Treatment Of Hemorrhoid Site.


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