Blood in the stool, why does it happen?

Finding blood in the stool is something that scares anyone. Almost everyone knows that it is one of the symptoms of colon cancer. However, finding blood when going to the bathroom can be due to many other reasons. In fact, not all are evil.

Norberto Mañas, the specialist in the Digestive System of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, points out:

«It is normal to be alarmed because the blood is very scandalous. When you bleed the first thing you think about is that something is not going well, but the most frequent is that if there is blood in the stool it is not due to something bad, although obviously that does not take away so that it is studied by a specialist, especially if They are over 50 years old ».

Because of its frequency and importance, In this article we explain what are the main causes of blood in the stool.

How does blood appear in the stool?

Blood in the stool can be shown in different ways.. In fact, on numerous occasions it is not even visible to the naked eye. The main ways to appreciate it are:

  • Red blood that can be seen with the naked eye. It usually stains the toilet paper after cleaning. It may even appear drip after defecating. It is due to bleeding at the end of the intestine or in the anus. It is the type of blood that usually appears with hemorrhoids or fissures.
  • Black stool as tar. The medical term used is ‘mane.’ They are black stools and foul odor. They are usually due to bleeding in the upper part of the digestive system. They are more serious than the previous ones.
  • Stool mixed with blood or clots. They tend to appear this way in inflammatory bowel diseases. Also when polyps exist or even in cancer.
  • Hidden blood. It is not visible to the naked eye. In fact, it can only be detected by medical tests. However, other symptoms such as anemia without another obvious cause, may indicate that there is hidden blood in stool. In these cases, it is essential to do a colonoscopy.

What are the causes of blood in the stool?

As we mentioned, the most alarming cause is colon cancer. However, it is not the only situation in which blood appears in the stool. Other causes are:

  • Hemorrhoids (also called almorranas). They are the main cause. They are dilated veins in the anus and rectum. Occur in 3 out of 4 adults occasionally. Its most common cause is excessive strain when defecating during constipation. They are also frequent in women who have been pregnant.
  • Anal fissure. It consists of a small tear of the mucosa that covers the anus. It can appear when large and hard stools are defecated. It is also associated with constipation.
  • Diverticula. They are small lumps in the large intestine. Its incidence increases with age.
  • Intestinal polyps. They refer to tissue that grows additionally, more frequently in the large intestine. Most are not dangerous; However, some can be carcinogenic.
  • Gastric or duodenal ulcers. They are lesions in the wall of the stomach or intestine. Like problems in the esophagus, they can cause hair.
  • Certain alterations of blood vessels. Vasculitis or angiodysplasia can cause blood in the stool.
  • Some infections.
  • Inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis usually occur with blood in the stool.

You might like: 5 tips to live better with chronic constipation

What should you do if you have blood in your stool?

As we have seen, finding blood when going to the bathroom can be due to very different causes. In addition, it is not always easy to diagnose and it can be something more serious than we think. Thus, it is advisable to always go to the doctor.

You should provide the doctor with all possible information about your stool. The color, frequency and form of bleeding are very important for the diagnosis. This is why doctors recommend looking at stool.

On the other hand, from 50, it is advisable to carry out a blood test in the stool periodically. A test with a test strip can also be done. The intention is to detect hidden blood that is not visible to the naked eye.

Similarly, a rectal touch is usually performed. Rectal touch helps detect hemorrhoids and tumors in the rectum. In addition, it also serves to detect prostate problems. Although it is an uncomfortable test, it is worth carrying out.

Colonoscopy is the most effective test to rule out colon cancer. Depending on the type of blood in the stool, other diagnostic tests such as gastroscopy, radiography or scintigraphy are also used.

You may be interested: What is a colonoscopy for?

In conclusion

If you find blood in the stool, don't be alarmed. The causes can be varied and it is common to be due to hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. Even so, Do not hesitate to go to the doctor to rule out any other pathology.