As a health care provider one of the topics that incite immediate fear and anxiety is the sight of blood in stool. This symptom can range anywhere from streaks of blood mixed in with stool to frank bright red blood that comes out from the rectum in clots. There are a lot of different reasons why people have rectal bleeding but of course the mind first jumps to the thought of internal hemorrhaging or cancer.
Let’s learn more about different diseases that can cause the appearance of blood in stool.
False Positive Tests
A hemoccult test is a test done by a medical provider to determine if there is any blood in the stool. These tests do have false positives associated with them when certain foods are ingested such as red meat, cantaloupe, grapefruit, figs, broccoli, turnips, radishes, and cauliflower.
Stools that Appear Red
There are also foods that can make the stool itself appear red or like it has streaks of blood in it.
These foods typically have artificial coloring in them and can include: tomato soup or juice, excess beets, kool-aid, red popsicles or red gelatin.
Hemorrhoids appear when veins around the anus become swollen and inflamed. Causes of hemorrhoids include straining to pass stool, aging, pregnancy and chronic constipation or diarrhea. Hemorrhoids typically resolve on there own. Medication is also available to help shrink the tissue when inflamed.
More prevalent in countries where the diets are low in fiber such as Australia, England and the United States. Diverticulitis occurs when small pockets develop through weakened areas of the lower intestine. These pockets can get inflamed, causing bleeding as a symptom. Common treatments include antibiotics and a high fiber diet.
Any inflammation or irritation of the esophagus, the tube that connects the back of the mouth with the stomach. Common causes include acid reflux, vomiting, and intake of certain medications. Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause.
Peptic Ulcer Disease
A breakdown in the lining of the stomach or the intestine by acid released from the stomach to assist with food breakdown or by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. There are excellent treatment options now available to treat peptic ulcer disease.
An inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers or sores in the intestine and rectum. The cells that line the intestine and rectum are weakened because of the inflammation and blood and pus can form.
A tear in the tissue that lines the anus or rectum. These tears can be caused during childbirth or by hard stools. Acute tears may be treated by medication but some chronic tears that don’t heal well on there own may require surgery.
A growth on the inside of the colon that can turn into a malignancy if not detected early. Colon polyps are typically asymptomatic until that have grown in size. Colon cancer is now being diagnosed at an earlier age then before. Treatment of colon polyps is to remove them through a colonoscope before they become symptomatic and malignant.
Be sure to check with your health care provider if you have any symptoms of blood in your stool.
March 7th, 2009
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