Blood in Stool: The Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore


Having blood in the stool is never a pleasant sight to witness, as it can be a cause for concern. It can indicate a serious medical condition, or it may be a minor issue that can be easily treated. Either way, the fact still remains – it is something that should not be ignored.

In this article, we will discuss what blood in stool looks like, the causes of blood in stool (, when to seek medical help, diagnosis, managing blood in stool symptoms, preventive measures, and the available treatment options.

Blood in stool is a symptom that can indicate an underlying medical condition. But before you think of the worst-case scenario, you should remember two important things: first, not all cases of blood in stool are serious, and secondly, the color of the blood can indicate the severity of the condition.

Bright red blood in stool is a sign of bleeding in the lower digestive tract, while dark red or black blood indicates bleeding in the upper digestive tract.


The presence of blood in stool may be accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. In some cases, there may be no other symptoms present, which is why it is crucial to identify the cause of the blood in stool to receive appropriate treatment.

What does blood in stool look like?

As mentioned earlier, the color of the blood can indicate the location of the bleeding.

Bright red blood in stool is a common sign of bleeding in the lower digestive tract, which includes the rectum and anus.

The blood, in this case, may be mixed with the stool or present on the surface of the stool. Dark red or black blood in stool indicates bleeding in the upper digestive tract, which includes the stomach and small intestine. You will notice that the blood may appear tarry or sticky and have a foul odor.

To avoid unnecessary panic, a person should also know how to differentiate between blood in stool and other red-colored substances that can be mistaken for blood.

Foods such as beets, red gelatin, and tomato soup can give the stool a red color, while iron supplements and certain medications can cause the stool to appear dark or black.

What are the causes of blood in stool?

There are various causes of blood in stool, ranging from minor conditions to life-threatening diseases. Hemorrhoids are a common cause of bright red blood in stool, and they occur when blood vessels in the rectum and anus become swollen and inflamed.

Anal fissures, or small tears in the anus, can also cause the appearance of bright red blood in stool.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is another culprit. These conditions cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which leads to bleeding. Colon cancer, polyps, and diverticulitis are other potential causes of blood in stool.

When should I seek medical help?

Medical attention should be sought immediately if the presence of blood is accompanied by severe pain, fever, vomiting, or if there is a large amount of blood present. If the blood is dark or black, it may indicate bleeding in the upper digestive tract, which requires immediate medical attention.

Individuals who are over the age of 50 or have a family history of colon cancer should also seek medical attention if they notice blood in their stool.

How is the underlying cause diagnosed?

The diagnosis of this condition involves a physical examination and various tests. A doctor may perform a digital rectal exam to check for hemorrhoids or anal fissures. A stool sample may also be taken to check for infections and parasites.

If the cause of the blood in stool is unclear, a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy may be performed to examine the digestive tract. These procedures involve inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the rectum or mouth to view the digestive tract.

What are rectal bleeding and gastrointestinal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding and gastrointestinal bleeding are terms used to describe bleeding in the digestive tract. Rectal bleeding occurs when there is bleeding in the rectum or anus, while gastrointestinal bleeding refers to bleeding in the upper or lower digestive tract.

To further differentiate the two, let us take a look at the causes. Rectal bleeding can be caused by hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or inflammatory bowel disease. On the other hand, gastrointestinal bleeding can be caused by ulcers, gastritis, or cancer.

How do I manage blood in stool symptoms?

Managing blood in stool symptoms involves treating the underlying cause of the bleeding. In cases of hemorrhoids or anal fissures, over-the-counter creams and ointments can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

For more severe cases, surgery may be required to remove hemorrhoids or repair anal fissures. Inflammatory bowel disease can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, while colon cancer may require surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

What are the preventative measures for blood in stool symptoms?

Maintaining good digestive health is the best armor against problems in the digestive tract.

Eating a balanced diet rich in fiber and staying hydrated can reduce the risk of constipation and hemorrhoids.It keeps the digestive system in top shape by supporting gut flora, a complex community of microorganisms that live in the gut and plays a vital role in maintaining a balanced and functioning digestive system.

Fiber also helps to regulate the gut’s pH balance and helps to reduce inflammation in the gut, which can lead to a range of digestive problems.

If you smoke and drink, avoiding (or better yet, quitting) smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems. And lastly, getting regular check-ups with a doctor can help detect any potential problems early.