Causes of Blood in Stool
There are many possible causes of blood in stool, ranging from minor to life-threatening  . Some of the common causes include:
- Hemorrhoids: Swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum
- Anal fissure: Tear or split in the anus
- Rectal prolapse: Rectum that has descended through the anus
- Diverticulitis or diverticulosis: Pouches in the lining of the digestive tract that may become inflamed or tear
- Rectal polyps: Growths in the lining of the large intestine
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Used in reference to Chron's disease or ulcerative colitis. IBD is categorized as chronic inflammation in the digestive tract
- Ulcers: Open sores in the stomach or upper small intestine
- Colorectal cancer: Cancer in the colon or rectum, which often starts as a polyp
When to See a Doctor
Finding blood in urine or stool is always something you should bring up with your healthcare provider. Blood in stool is sometimes benign, but it's difficult to determine the cause yourself, and some causes need prompt treatment. Even when the cause of bleeding appears to be obvious, something more serious could be going on. For example, hemorrhoids are a benign cause of bleeding that you can often treat easily at home. But rectal prolapse, which usually needs to be treated surgically, can be mistaken for hemorrhoids.
Be sure to keep a record of the bleeding, so you can inform your doctor of when it occurred and what it looked like. Even intermittent bleeding should be checked out. Your doctor may be able to determine the cause of bleeding based on your symptoms and a physical examination. Or they may order more testing to identify what's causing blood in your stool.
There are some symptoms that can accompany blood in stool that indicate a serious problem. Get medical help immediately if you experience blood in your stool along with any of the following symptoms :
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
You should always inform your healthcare provider if you experience visible or occult blood in your stool. There are many causes of blood in stool, and some require medical intervention. Bleeding can also be the first indication of a more serious problem. If you or your doctor suspect that you might have occult blood in your stool, you can test a sample of your stool at home or send it to a lab for further testing. Fecal occult blood tests can also be used as a tool to screen for colorectal cancer.