Blood in stools (hematochezia)

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Blood in stools, also known as rectal bleeding or hematochezia, refers to the presence of blood when you have a bowel movement. It can vary in appearance and severity, and the causes can range from minor issues to more serious medical conditions.


Here’s a description of the characteristics of blood in stools:

1. Color: The color of the blood can provide valuable information about the source and severity of the bleeding:
a. Bright red blood: This typically indicates bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as the rectum or anus. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or minor rectal bleeding are common causes of bright red blood in stools.
b. Dark, tarry stools (melena): Dark, black, or maroon-colored stools suggest bleeding higher up in the gastrointestinal tract, possibly in the stomach or small intestine. Melena is often a sign of more serious conditions like gastrointestinal ulcers, gastritis, or bleeding disorders.
2. Consistency: Blood in stools may appear as streaks, clots, or mixed throughout the stool. The consistency can vary depending on the underlying cause.

3. Amount: The amount of blood can also vary. It might be just a few drops, or it can be more substantial and lead to significant discoloration of the stool or toilet water.

4. Associated symptoms: Rectal bleeding can occur with other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), fatigue, weight loss, or dizziness. These accompanying symptoms can provide additional clues about the underlying condition.

5. Frequency: Blood in stools can be a one-time occurrence or a recurring problem. Chronic or recurrent bleeding may indicate a chronic medical condition that needs attention.


Here are some common treatments for various causes of rectal bleeding:

1. Hemorrhoids:
Mild cases often resolve on their own with lifestyle changes, such as a high-fiber diet and increased water intake.
Topical over-the-counter (OTC) creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone or witch hazel may help relieve symptoms.
Sitz baths (warm water baths for the buttocks and hips) can provide comfort.

2. Anal Fissures:
Anal fissures often heal on their own with good anal hygiene practices.
Topical ointments or creams containing nitroglycerin or calcium channel blockers may be prescribed to relax the anal sphincter and promote healing.
In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend Botox injections or surgery for chronic or severe fissures.

3. Gastrointestinal Bleeding:
Treatment for gastrointestinal bleeding depends on the cause and severity.
Minor bleeding may not require specific intervention, but the underlying condition should be addressed. Severe bleeding may necessitate hospitalization and interventions such as endoscopy, angiography, or surgery to stop the bleeding and treat the underlying cause.

4. Colorectal Polyps:
Small polyps can often be removed during a colonoscopy using techniques like snare polypectomy. Larger or precancerous polyps may require surgical removal. Regular surveillance colonoscopies may be recommended to monitor for new polyps.

5. Colorectal Cancer:
Treatment for colorectal cancer typically involves surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on the stage of cancer, additional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be necessary.
Follow-up care includes surveillance to monitor for recurrence.

6. Diverticular Disease:
Mild diverticulitis (inflammation) can be managed with antibiotics and a clear liquid diet. Severe cases may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. Prevention strategies include a high-fiber diet and lifestyle changes.

7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
Treatment for IBD includes medications to control inflammation and suppress the immune system. Lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and regular monitoring are essential components of IBD management.

8. Anal or Colorectal Injuries:
Treatment depends on the extent of the injury and may include surgical repair in severe cases. Avoiding further trauma is crucial.

9. Medication-Induced Bleeding:
In some cases, switching or discontinuing medications that irritate the gastrointestinal tract, such as NSAIDs, may be necessary.

10. Bleeding Disorders:
Management of bleeding disorders involves specific medications and therapies to control bleeding episodes.

11. Other Causes:
Treatment for less common causes of rectal bleeding will depend on the specific diagnosis and may include medications, procedures, or surgery as appropriate.

Nutrients and supplements:
1. Iron – If rectal bleeding has led to anemia due to iron deficiency, iron supplements may be recommended to replenish iron stores in the body. These supplements should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

2. Fiber cleanse – For conditions like hemorrhoids or anal fissures that benefit from softer and bulkier stools, fiber supplements such as psyllium husk or methylcellulose may be suggested to help prevent constipation and straining during bowel movements.

3. Probiotics- in cases where rectal bleeding is associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or other gastrointestinal disorders, some individuals find relief from certain probiotic supplements. However, the choice of probiotics and their use should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

4. Omega-3s – may have anti-inflammatory properties and could potentially help in managing conditions associated with rectal bleeding like ulcerative colitis.

5. Blood stop – for internal bleeding, blood in the urine & coughing up of blood.


Here is a list of some common causes of blood in stools:

1. Hemorrhoids: Swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus can lead to bleeding during bowel movements. This is one of the most common causes of bright red blood in the stools.

2. Anal fissures: Small tears or cracks in the lining of the anus can result in bleeding, especially during bowel movements. Anal fissures can be caused by constipation, straining, or trauma.

3. Gastrointestinal bleeding: Bleeding from any part of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to blood in stools. The source of the bleeding can include the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or large intestine (colon). Common causes of gastrointestinal bleeding include ulcers, gastritis, and inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).

4. Gastrointestinal ulcers: Open sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine can cause bleeding, leading to dark, tarry stools (melena).

5. Colorectal polyps: Abnormal growths in the colon or rectum can sometimes bleed and result in blood in the stools. Some polyps can develop into colorectal cancer over time.

6. Colorectal cancer: Cancerous growths in the colon or rectum can cause bleeding, which may appear as blood in the stools. Colorectal cancer is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.

7. Diverticular disease: Diverticula are small pouches that can form in the walls of the colon. When they become inflamed or infected, they may bleed, leading to blood in the stools.

8. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract that can cause rectal bleeding, along with other symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss.

9. Anal or colorectal injuries: Trauma to the anus or rectum, such as from inserting foreign objects or engaging in anal intercourse, can cause bleeding.

10. Medications: Some medications, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and lead to bleeding.

11. Bleeding disorders: Conditions like hemophilia or von Willebrand disease can lead to easy bleeding, including blood in stools.

12. Meckel’s diverticulum: A congenital abnormality in the small intestine that can cause bleeding.

13. Peptic ulcers: Sores that develop in the stomach or duodenum due to Helicobacter pylori infection or NSAID use can cause bleeding and melena.

14. Radiation proctitis: Inflammation and bleeding in the rectum can occur as a side effect of radiation therapy for certain cancers in the pelvic area.

Underlying Emotions


A diet for rectal bleeding should generally focus on promoting digestive health, preventing or managing conditions that may contribute to bleeding, and minimizing irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Here are some dietary considerations that may be indicated:

1. High-Fiber Diet: Consuming a diet rich in dietary fiber can help maintain regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation, which can exacerbate conditions like hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.

2. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential for softening stools and preventing constipation, which can lead to straining during bowel movements and worsen bleeding. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important.

3. Low-Irritation Diet: In some cases, particularly if you have conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a low-irritation or low-residue diet may be recommended. This diet limits high-fiber and spicy foods, as well as foods that can be abrasive to the digestive tract. Your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide guidance on specific dietary restrictions.

4. Avoiding Trigger Foods: Some individuals with rectal bleeding may find that certain foods or beverages exacerbate their symptoms. Common trigger foods include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and high-fat foods. Identifying and avoiding these triggers can help alleviate discomfort.

5. Iron-rich foods: If rectal bleeding has led to anemia due to iron deficiency, including iron-rich foods in your diet or taking iron supplements as prescribed by your healthcare provider may be necessary to address the deficiency.

6. Probiotics: In some cases, such as for individuals with inflammatory bowel disease, probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or probiotic supplements may be beneficial. Probiotics can help support gut health and reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

7. Moderate Meals: Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day may help reduce the stress on your digestive system and promote more comfortable bowel movements.

Consultation with a Dietitian: If you have rectal bleeding or an underlying gastrointestinal condition, it’s advisable to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider. They can provide personalized dietary recommendations tailored to your specific needs and medical history.


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