By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, BHMS
Bright red blood in stool
Blood in the stool is not a very common condition and can be an indication of some serious underlying problem that needs to be taken care of.
You can find bright red blood in stools in different forms- either small streaks of blood mixed with stools, on the outside of stools, or bright red blood that shows up on toilet paper after wiping.
A bright red blood color indicates bleeding from the lower gastrointestinal tract; whereas dark red blood color indicates bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Generally, the closer the bleeding site is to anus, the brighter red the blood will be. This is because the blood from the rectum and sigmoid colon does not stay in the colon long enough for bacteria in the colon to turn it black.
This is the most common reason for seeing bright red blood on the toilet paper.
Normally hemorrhoids are caused by constipation and straining to pass stools.
Anal fissures are tears or cuts inside the anal region. The damage usually happens while trying to pass large stools.
Since it is an open cut or tear, it is a painful condition, and is especially painful when passing more stool. Anal fissures are also characterized by itching and burning around the anus.
Defined as the inflammation of the rectum, proctitis can be caused by a number of things, though inflammatory bowel conditions (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) are what are usually responsible for inflammation of the rectum.
The condition is characterized by painful bowel movements, bright red blood in stools, diarrhea and tenesmus.
Any abnormal growth in the rectum or colon can cause bright red blood in stools.
As stool passes over the polyp it can cause it to bleed. If the polyp is in rectum, the bleeding is bright red in color. If the polyp is farther up in the colon it will appear as a darker color of blood that is mixed in with the stool.
This is commonly seen after the age of fifty. Diverticula are pockets in the colon where the colon wall is weakened, usually due to constipation.
Besides rectal bleeding, diverticula are associated with symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and blood clots in the stool.
This is the most serious cause of rectal bleeding. If colonic cancer is detected early it can be managed well. Regular health check-ups help in diagnosing the condition at an early stage.
If you continue to find bright red blood in your stool not caused by hemorrhoids or anal fissures, it is best to see your doctor to confirm that it isn’t colon cancer.
As mentioned above, most of the causes for bright red blood in stools are triggered or aggravated by constipation. Therefore, the first step in managing or preventing rectal bleeding is to prevent constipation.
This can be done by making some diet modifications such as increasing fiber intake by including fiber rich foods like oats, bran, fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and avoiding spicy, fatty and processed foods. Also avoid excessive milk and dairy products.
Include some sort of physical activity in your daily routine. Besides being good for you, exercise promotes digestive health.
Magnesium is a wonderful nutrient that provides numerous health benefits. One of these is that it is a remedy for constipation.
Since most people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, taking an inexpensive magnesium supplement just makes sense.
Magnesium serves as a natural osmotic laxative that draws water into the colon. The extra moisture helps to soften stool and propel it on its way.
The causes of bright red blood in stools can range from simple hemorrhoids to serious colonic cancer.
No matter what the cause is, it is important to get it diagnosed accurately so that necessary steps can be taken.