The Complete Guide to Dealing with Blood in Stool
Blood in stool is an alarming sight, and it usually points to something severely wrong in one’s health condition. But then again, it could just be nothing. However, it’s always a good idea to do something about it, because blood in stool is definitely not normal.
On the other hand, your poop might come out looking black, which is also an indication that there’s blood in it. Essentially, bloody poop will either come out looking black or bright red, and it’s incredibly important that you pay attention to the color because it can be an indication of internal bleeding. Other times, bloody stools can be an indication of bleeding of the rectum or anus.
Needless to say, if you’re losing a lot of blood while pooping, then you should see your doctor or visit the emergency room immediately. However, if your bloody stool is not accompanied by other symptoms or is not as dire as all that, then you can treat yourself at home using natural remedies, most of which will help you to heal the root of the problem. Below we’ve got a few potential causes of the problem for you to look out for, as well as some of the natural remedies that you can use for each cause.
What is Blood in Stool?
The medical term for bloody stool is hematochezia and it is characterized by experiencing brown colored bloody stools every time you go for number 2 in the bathroom. One of the main causes of this condition is either rectal bleeding or blood that’s coming from the lower or upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. A bloody stool can either look brown or black in color, and the color of the stool is symptomatic of the cause behind the bleeding. Sometimes bloody stools are caused by rectal bleeding, and at other times it caused by internal bleeding.
Whatever the cause, a bloody stool is incredibly scary and easy to notice, and it’s definitely not normal. While the cause may not exactly be lethal, it is still a serious matter that deserves your attention.
Black, Tarry Stools
Black, tarry stools are often caused by bleeding that happens in your digestive tract. A condition is known as gastritis, which is characterized by having an irritated stomach or esophagus can also cause bleeding, as do stomach ulcers. What causes the blood to look like tar is the fact that it gets mixed up with digestive fluids on its way out.
Other factors that might cause black colored stool include the ingestion of medications like iron supplements or medications that are made from bismuth.
However, a tarry, black stool can also be indicative of severe blood and circulation issues within your digestive system.
This includes conditions such as:
- Bowel ischemia which happens when there’s not enough blood flowing towards the intestines.
- Misshapen veins also are known as vascular malformation.
- Varices, which are characterized by large intestinal veins that protrude unnaturally.
Red, Bloody Stools
There are also certain medical conditions which can lead to red or bloody stools. For instance, the lower part of your digestive system might be bleeding, causing bloody stools. Sometimes, benign or cancerous polyps that are present on your colon can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Other times, it’s due to inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulosis. These conditions can be responsible for the production of bright red or maroon-colored stools.
Hemorrhoids are usually what’s behind bloody stools in most people, and are mainly characterized by the presence of swollen veins in the anus or rectum. Difficulty in moving the bowels can lead to bleeding as a result of these swollen veins.
Also, if you experience digestive blockage then you might end up with bloody, tarry or black stools as well.
Poor dietary choices can also lead to tarry looking or bloody stools. Ever notice how your stools turn red every time you eat beetroot? The same goes for other red and black colored foods, they can affect the color of your stool afterward, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s blood coming out of your rectum.
The following foods can also cause stool discoloration:
- Black licorice
- Red fruit punch
- Dark chocolate cookies or “brownies”
- Gelatin that’s red in color
- Red fruit punch
It is not uncommon for stress to cause acid reflux and ulcers. That’s why you should make time for yourself to perform relaxation rituals like meditation, which will help to keep your emotions balanced and your digestion in check. Not exercising every day can also disturb circulation, which is actually essential to enabling proper transportation of nutrients throughout the body, as well as maintaining optimal energy levels.
Should you suspect any abnormalities in your digestive tract, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor immediately. A gastroenterologist will typically perform an exam known as a colonoscopy, which checks for the presence of unhealthy growth or polyps within the intestines. That said, it’s important to note here that this particular procedure is usually done on patients who are over the age of 50, who are often encouraged to repeat it once every five to ten years afterward just to be on the safe side. Nevertheless, it’s very important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle that’s characterized by consuming plant-based whole foods, daily movement and a reduction of unhealthy habits. This will help to keep your GI tract healthy, which will, in turn, reduce your chances of getting a bloody stool.
How is the Cause Diagnosed?
To figure out why you’re experiencing a bloody stool, your doctor will most probably start by performing a physical exam while also checking your medical history. The exam will most likely include taking stool samples and getting a blood test done. Imaging tests may also be done, such as CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, to understand the digestive system blood flow. This will help your doctor to figure out what blockages there are within your gastrointestinal system, which is what’s behind the bleeding.
To find out how your colon’s doing, your physician may also perform a colonoscopy, which is a procedure that usually requires that the patient is sedated throughout. That’s because this procedure involves the insertion of the flexible and thin tube with a camera attached to enable proper viewing of the colon’s interior in order to find the root cause of the problem.
Treatment Options for Bloody or Tarry Stools?
The treatment recommended for tarry or bloody stools often depends on the origin of the problem. The American Cancer Association reports that cancer sufferers who experience hemorrhoids can use stool softeners to decrease the severity of the problem and to make it easier to pass stools. Another remedy that can help to relieve hemorrhoid pain and ease bleeding is the use of sitz baths.
Bleeding ulcers may also call for the use of acid-reducing medications, which you can get via prescription from your doctor to heal bleeding ulcers. Certain immunosuppressant drugs and antibiotics can also be an effective treatment for bowel infections and diseases that are caused by inflammation.
If the bleeding continues as a result of blockages even after you’ve tried several remedies, then you might need to get the surgery done. Experiencing extreme blood loss due to bloody stools can also lead to anemia and require a blood transfusion in order to replace the red blood cells that you’ve lost.
Bloody stools can also be caused by the presence of polyps on your colon, which is often symptomatic of precancerous conditions that your doctor can prescribe treatment for. Some cases will require the complete removal of the polyps through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other methods, especially if the polyps are cancerous.
How to Prevent Bloody or Tarry Stools?
One of the best ways to eliminate the risk of tarry or bloody stools is to eat foods that are high in fiber and drink plenty of water every day. Both fiber and water will make it easier for your body to pass stools by softening them.
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Whole grains
Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with your physician before making any significant dietary changes, especially if you’re not sure what the root of the problem is. For instance, berries can have an irritating effect on the bowels if you already have an existing inflammatory, gastric condition.
Should you experience any one or a combination of the following symptoms in addition to a bloody stool, visit your nearest medical emergency center immediately:
- Passing inordinate amounts of blood
- Rapid heart rate
Keep in mind that certain foods like berries, tomatoes, and beets could be responsible for experiencing red stools, so don’t panic if you see red stools after eating any one of these foods. The same goes for blueberries and licorice as well as some types of medicine like iron pills and Pepto-Bismol.
On the other hand, red stools can also be caused by health conditions like cancer or polyps. In fact, getting bloody stools is one of the main symptoms of colorectal cancer which is the third most prevalent type of cancer in the US. Polyps are usually located in the colon and start out as nonthreatening growths that can grow into bigger and more malignant growths over time. That’s why you should not waste time to report the issue to your doctor as soon as you notice that you’re getting bloody stools.
If the bloody stools are also accompanied by mucus and some abdominal pain, then you should definitely visit your doctor pronto, because these could be symptoms of a more severe health condition like cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
It’s equally important to consult with your physician before you get on any new diet or lifestyle regime, especially if you’ve got a chronic condition that you’re taking medication for. For instance, high blood pressure patients are advised to stay away from licorice extract as it could worsen their condition.
5 Natural Remedies for Blood in Stool
Similarly to the orthodox medical treatments that are often used to treat bloody stools, it’s important for the natural alternatives to heal the root cause. In fact, here are some natural remedies that you can try in order to treat bloody stools according to the causes:
A Bleeding Stomach Ulcer
Peptic ulcers which are also known as bleeding stomach ulcers are lesions that are typically located in the lining of your digestive system, and some of their main symptoms are either bloody stool or bloody vomit. The good news is that there are some measures that you can take to minimize the damage that these ulcers, as well as the symptoms that come with them. This includes avoiding harmful foods like caffeinated beverages, refined sugars, alcohol, spicy foods and any foods that contain allergens. On the other hand, it’s always good to up your intake of green leafy vegetables, fibrous foods as well as fermented foods.
Cabbage juice is another proven healing method for peptic ulcers, and you can make it at home using ingredients like cabbage juice, ginger, aloe, and cucumber.
Another method that you can use to heal your ulcers is to eat several small meals per day instead of the conventional three square meals, which can be quite demanding on your digestive system.
As the name implies, gastritis is a health condition that is related to digestion, and it’s characterized by the inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and the stomach which is known as the gastric mucosa. Similarly to ulcers, gastritis typically manifests itself through bloody stools, and one of the best ways to combat this problem is by changing your diet to include healing foods like healthy fats, high-quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
You’ll also want to eat foods that are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin B12, vitamin 3, omega-3 fatty acids, electrolytes, and probiotics. In the same vein, you should also stay away from acidic, spicy and hot foods, and this includes thing like citrus fruits and tomatoes for example.
Another way to combat gastritis is to reduce your stress levels and try to stop eating at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime so that your stomach is able to digest your food properly.
There is an anti-inflammatory compound found in licorice root known as glycyrrhizic acid, which can be very helpful in calming ulcers as well as gastritis. That’s because this compound is rich in antioxidants, and it has antimicrobial and anti-tumor qualities. The best part is that licorice extract is available as chewable and in supplement form. You might also want to add fennel into your diet as well in order to reduce the symptoms of gastritis and ulcers.
Inflammation of the pouches found within the colon walls is known as diverticulitis, and one of the best ways to avoid this condition is to consume homemade bone broth. This remedy aids in digestion while enabling your body to properly assimilate the nutrients it needs to heal itself naturally.
Another way to heal diverticulitis and reduce symptoms is to eat fiber-rich foods on a daily basis and try to stay away from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication, as this can make the condition worse. In fact, the Archives of Family Medicine once published a study which showed a strong correlation between prolonged use of NSAIDs and diverticulitis symptoms like bleeding.
Crohn’s disease manifests itself through a number of different symptoms depending on the level of inflammation experienced, but experiencing bloody stools is one of the most common symptoms. One of the easiest and most effective ways to overcome this condition is to invest in a Crohn’s Disease Diet & Natural Treatment Plan.
Certain herbs like slippery elm can also be very helpful because this particular herb can actually protect and heal irritated tissues. Once mixed with water, slippery elm turns into a slick gel that simply coats the affected areas within the digestive tract to speed up healing while providing quick relief from the irritation.
If ulcerative colitis is the established cause of the bloody stools that you’re experiencing, then you’ll be glad to know that there are various natural remedies that you can try to heal the condition. You can start off by following a healthier and more healing diet that’s free from “trigger” foods like caffeinated drinks, sodas, spicy foods, alcohol, refined sugars, and foods, as well as overly processed dairy products.
You can replace these foods with healthy probiotics and foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as turmeric, which is can be taken as a supplement, in powder form or as a natural root. Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin, which has been known to improve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and can even cause patients to go into remission.
Since stress is another big trigger for symptoms of ulcerative colitis, it is highly recommended that patients try to minimize or eliminate stress from their lives, by practicing calming methods like meditation or spending time in nature.
Safe Foods to Eat After Rectal Bleeding
Rectal bleeding is commonly caused by health conditions such as colon cancer, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, anal fissure and even hemorrhoids. That’s why it’s so important to consult with your doctor as soon as you start noticing that you’re passing red stools or seeing blood on your toilet paper. One of the best ways to promote proper bowel function and avoid rectal bleeding is to drink plenty of fluids every day and eat a diet that’s high in fiber, with the recommended minimum being 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
If you’ve experienced an episode of rectal bleeding, then be sure to include fruits and vegetable into your diet more often, as they offer a plethora of nutrients and are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day if you’re consuming 2000 calories a day.
In case you’re wondering, one serving could be something like ½ a cup of potato, broccoli or asparagus, one small apple, one banana or a cup of fresh berries. And be sure to “eat the rainbow” by incorporating different types of fruits and veggies into your diet every day because each contains different levels of fiber content, from o.5 to 4.8 grams per serving.
Hold the White Bread
You’ll have to switch the white bread for whole-grain bread in order to up your fiber intake. Again, if you’re consuming 2000 calories a day then you’ll want to consume 6 to 8 servings of high-fiber foods like a cup of shredded wheat cereal, one slice of bread or ½ cup of whole wheat pasta. Also, get acquainted with the ingredients section of the foods you eat, so that you know which foods are high in fiber and which ones to avoid, and food labels will give you the exact measurement of fiber contained in each serving of the product.
Load Up on Legumes
You can also increase your fiber intake by including more legumes into your diet, and if you’re consuming 2000 calories a day, then you’ll want to eat 4 to 5 servings of legumes, nuts, and seeds per day. This includes things like 1 ½ cups of chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans or pinto beans. Legumes typically contain 4 to 8 grams of fiber per serving.
It’s also important to stay hydrated after a rectal bleed, by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, every day. This will help to relieve constipation by softening your stools. Your required water intake will typically depend on how much you weigh. For example, for someone that weighs 150 pounds, 75 ounces of fluids are recommended each day, and that translates to about 9 cups. This includes water, fruit juice, vegetable juice as well as caffeine-free beverages.
Rectum Bleeding After Exercise
If you experience bloody stools or rectal bleeding after a bout of exercise, then you might be suffering from a serious health condition like diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, bleeding ulcers and even colon cancer. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you speak to your doctor if this ever happens so that you can get treatment for it early on.
Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins within the rectum and they’re usually the cause behind rectal bleeding, as they’re often triggered by constipation, straining during defecation, dehydration and not getting enough fiber in one’s diet. There are mainly two types of hemorrhoids, namely internal and external hemorrhoids. Rectal bleeding after exercise that’s accompanied by swelling and itching of the anus as well as pain can be healed through the application of corticosteroid creams, which are available for purchase over-the-counter.
Rectal bleeding after exercise can also be caused by a bleeding peptic ulcer, which is either caused by the ongoing use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen and aspirin, or a bacterial infection such as Helicobacter pylori. In this instance, the rectal bleeding will be accompanied by anemic symptoms and even a loss of consciousness. If there is extreme bleeding, then the ulcer will have to be removed, but if it is mild then it can be healed using simple medications.
The term diverticulitis is derived from diverticula which refers to the pouches situated in the lining of your colon, and when these pouches start to swell up due to weakened colon walls they cause diverticulitis. This condition is often the cause behind rectal bleeding after exercise and happens as a result of a fiber deficiency. Oftentimes, antibiotics are the best treatment for diverticulitis, but they must be administered quickly to avoid worsening of the condition, as this can cause colon obstruction, perforation or infection.
Rectal bleeding after exercise can also be caused by colon cancer, and will often be accompanied by other symptoms like pain, narrow stools, sudden weight loss and sensitivity on the lower abdomen. Early detection is your best defense against this condition and there are a variety of treatments available for it, including radiation therapy and surgery to name but a few.
Blood and Mucus in a Baby’s Stool
Finding a bloody stool with mucus in a baby’s stool can be one of the scariest moments for a mother, and this is usually caused by bleeding that comes from the bottom of the digestive tract. On the other hand, the bloody stool might just be something harmless and due to dietary changes, whereas mucus is perfectly normal in a baby’s stool. However, excessive amounts of mucus along with blood can point to an infection in the digestive system or the development of another health condition. Whatever the case is, take your baby to the doctor as soon as you notice the problem just to be on the safe side.
Bloody mucus in baby’s stool can be caused by bacterial infections like E.coli, Shigella, Salmonella and even the presence of small parasites. This may also be accompanied by diarrhea with a few stools in between, as well as vomiting, sensitivity in the stomach and even a fever. The cause of these infections is usually consumption of contaminated foods or drinks and the type of treatment required will depend on the cause behind the infection. Some of the early warning signs to look out for include having more than 6 wet diapers per day, sunken eyes, dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, a soft spot on the head, excessive sleeping and fussiness, as well as unusually cool skin.
Bloody stool with mucus can also be caused by reactions to certain foods that contain proteins that don’t agree with baby’s tummy. Most babies tend to react to soy and cow’s milk, as well as any new foods that the baby gets introduced to. In medical circles, this reaction is known as food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome or FPIES, and it could lead to a lack of weight gain and dehydration. The good news is that treatment is easy and only requires that you eliminate the foods behind the reaction from the baby’s diet.
Small Anal Tears
The tissues which enable one to pass stools are still very small and delicate in babies, which is why passing hard stools can be difficult for babies, and may lead to small anal tears and ultimately, bloody stools. While it is possible for the tears to heal on their own, it’s always a good idea to visit the doctor, as they might help you out with recommendations of foods that might help to avoid future constipation.
Other Digestive Tract Problems
Another probable cause of bloody stools in babies is a condition known as intussusception. This condition is characterized by a blockage caused by one unit of the bowel slipping into another. Aside from the rectal bleeding, you’ll also notice other symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain that’s similar to colic, less energy and the passing of jelly-like consistency stools with blood and mucus. However, this might also be caused by other digestive issues like colitis, which is a condition that occurs when the colon becomes inflamed.
When to Seek Help
The causes behind bloody stool in babies can range from easily treatable to lethal. That’s why it’s always advised to call your doctor immediately when you notice your baby passing a bloody stool. Additionally, if your baby is also exhibiting symptoms like high fever, dehydration or excessive bleeding, then get him/her to the emergency room immediately.
Seeing blood in your stool is not like getting a paper cut, and you’re right to be concerned a little panicked because it is definitely not a normal occurrence. The best course of action in this instance is to take note of the frequency and color of the bloody stools, as that information will come in handy when you visit the doctor about the problem.
Regardless of whether you choose conventional or more alternative treatments for your bloody stool, it’s important to be quick about it, and understanding the root cause of the problem will give you a better chance of dealing with it more effectively. The sooner you get treatment for the problem, the sooner you can enjoy stress-free number 2s again.
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