Blood in Stool (Pooping Blood): What it Means and When to See a Doctor

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Bloody Stool (Pooping Blood): What it Means and When to See a Doctor
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Noticing blood in stool or spots of blood on toilet paper after you wipe usually means that there is bleeding in your digestive tract. Most people are alarmed when they see bright red blood in the toilet after a bowel movement. There are actually many reasons for pooping blood and not all of them mean that there is something seriously wrong.

Blood in stool can mean that you have hemorrhoids, anal fissures, colon polyps, or an infection in your stomach or digestive tract. Breaks in the tissue in your colon or anal opening could bleed when you push stool through.

In many cases, some simple home remedies can help to resolve conditions that are causing bright red blood in stool. For example, increasing fiber and fluid intake can help to soften stool and cause less pressure in your lower intestines that could lead to rectal bleeding. Also, taking warm baths can help to soothe pain and discomfort in your anus that usually accompanies bloody stools.

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It is important to remember that passing stools with blood is not a normal condition. Although many cases of pooping blood are harmless, you should always get it checked out by a doctor. This is especially true if you are pooping a lot of blood with your stool or you notice dark blood in your stool. These symptoms can be indicators of internal bleeding or gastric ulcers.

In this article, you will learn about the many causes of passing blood in stool and when it is serious enough to visit a doctor.

What Does Blood in Stool Look Like?

The medical name for bloody stools is hematochezia. Blood in stool usually looks like bright red drops of blood in the toilet bowl or red streaks on stool. Usually, the color of blood in poop depends on the location of the bleeding, and in fact, there is a lot that the color of your stool can tell about your health.

Dr. William Shiel on MedicineNet says that bright red blood in stool is usually a sign that the bleeding is closer to the anus or lower down the gastrointestinal tract at the base of the colon. Stools that look dark or tarry can mean that the bleeding is further up the colon. If you have bleeding in the stomach caused by an ulcer, your stools may appear black and have a foul smell.1

Bleeding in the right side of the colon may result in stool that has a dark maroon or almost black color to it. This is because feces from the right side of the colon take longer to travel through the digestive tract, and the old blood turns black. This is also called melena.

Some medical conditions mean that blood can’t be detected in stool with the naked eye, and this is called occult rectal bleeding. Some cases of anal cancer, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or hemorrhoids can result in little rectal bleeding. Usually, the only way to detect occult blood in stool is to send a sample to the lab for testing.1

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Symptoms of Pooping Blood

For many people, the only symptoms of blood in stool is noticing bright red blood on toilet paper or drops of blood in the toilet bowl. Very often, there is no pain when passing blood in stool. However, depending on the cause of rectal bleeding you might have other associated symptoms with blood in stool.

According to gastroenterologist Dr. Jay Markes, symptoms of blood in poop can include:2

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness if a person is passing a lot of blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort if the rectal bleeding is associated with a gastrointestinal problem
  • Spots of blood on underwear
  • Tenderness in the lower left abdomen
  • Black tarry stools
  • Maroon colored stools
  • Symptoms of anemia
  • Hemorrhoids that are visible in a rectal examination

What Does Blood in Stool Mean? 10 Common Causes of Pooping Blood

Let’s look in more detail at what could be causing bright red blood in stool or noticing other signs of rectal bleeding.

1. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a common cause of passing fresh blood in stool with or without pain. If you suffer from internal hemorrhoids you may have bright red blood in stool but no pain. However external hemorrhoids can cause sudden and severe pain.

The publication Informed Health Online reports that enlarged hemorrhoids can cause anal bleeding when passing stool if the blood vessels in the hemorrhoids break. This will cause bright red blood in the stool or on toilet paper. Sometimes, hemorrhoids can push through the anus and be seen. If you have blood in your stool, it’s important to see a doctor for a professional diagnosis.3

Other symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

Hemorrhoids can last from a few days to a week or so, and even up to a few months. To help stop pooping blood every time you have a bowel movement, you can try some natural remedies for getting rid of hemorrhoids. Among these are essential oils that can help to improve the symptoms of hemorrhoids naturally.

2. Anal fissures

Anal fissures are another reason for passing bright red blood in your stool along with pain and rectal discomfort. Anal fissures are small tears in the skin of the anal canal and can be caused by injury or passing hard stools.

According to The Permanente Journal, fissures can result in passing small amounts of fresh blood while pooping. This can also be accompanied by anal pain that can last for some time after a bowel movement. In time, anal fissures can become a chronic condition that causes a lot of discomfort when pooping.4

The journal Australian Prescriber says that anal fissures are common in people with constipation because of passing hard stools. However, they can also develop in cases of chronic diarrhea or with other digestive problems.5

Many doctors recommend increasing dietary fiber and fluid intake to ease the symptoms of anal fissures and make passing stool less uncomfortable.

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3. Colon polyps

Polyps are small clumps of cells that can form in the colon and cause stool with red streaks or black tarry stools. Polyps can affect anyone of any age but they are more common in people over 50 years old.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic report that colon polyps often cause rectal bleeding. Depending on where the polyps are located in your colon, the blood in your stool may be a deep red to black color. In comes cases, polyps cause occult bleeding and the blood in stool can only be detected in a lab test.6

In time colon polyps can lead to symptoms of anemia because the chronic rectal bleeding causes an iron deficiency. To stop rectal bleeding caused by colon polyps, doctors have to remove them surgically.

4. Constipation

Constipation can lead to various conditions that result in bleeding from your back passage when passing stool. Straining to pass hard or impacted stool can lead to tears in the colon.

According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, constipation can be a factor that causes hemorrhoids. Along with the hemorrhoids, constipation can also cause anal fissures, and both of these conditions cause bloody stools with or without pain.7

Other symptoms of constipation include:

  • Passing fewer than 3 stools a week
  • Straining to pass stools that are hard and lumpy
  • Feeling as if you can’t fully empty your bowel
  • Leaky anus

There are some excellent natural laxatives that can help to relieve the symptoms of constipation. Some of these include eating prunes, increasing fiber in your diet, and drinking plenty of water.

5. Gastritis

Gastritis can be caused by infections, stress, or autoimmune disorders that result in inflammation of your stomach lining and internal bleeding.

The World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy reports that stomach inflammation caused by bacteria can result in chronic intestinal bleeding. This can cause blood in stool that is difficult to see, or you could have black, tarry stool if there is a lot of bleeding. You may also show signs of anemia due to chronic blood loss.8

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that other signs of gastritis can include:9

If you notice dark red blood in your stool or your stools appear black, you should visit your doctor for a checkup.

6. Peptic ulcers

A bacterial infection in your stomach could lead to peptic ulcers which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

Peptic ulcers are commonly caused by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria or by the long-term use of painkillers. According to the journal Helicobacter, peptic ulcers can cause blood in stools. This can lead to black or bloody stools depending on how fresh the blood is.

If you have symptoms of peptic ulcers or H. pylori infections, please read my article on how to treat H. pylori naturally.

7. Inflammatory bowel disease

Passing mucus and blood in stool with abdominal pain could be a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

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Inflammatory bowel disease describes inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Dr. John Wilkinson from the Mayo Clinic says that passing bloody stools with mucus can often occur in patients with IBD.10

Some other symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include:

8. Anal fistula

Another painful condition that can cause you to poop bloody stools is an anal fistula. An anal fistula occurs when a small channel develops between the skin near your anus and the end of your bowel. The result can be painful bowel movements with bloody stools.

Doctors from WebMD say that passing blood in stools along with discharge is a common symptom of an anal fistula. You may also suffer from discomfort around the anus that is tender to touch and shows signs of swelling.11

According to doctors from the NHS, anal fistula doesn’t usually get better on its own, and surgery is recommended in most cases.20

9. Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is another digestive disorder that can cause you to poop stools with blood. Diverticulitis happens when small pockets of the colon become inflamed and infected.

According to the journal American Family Physician, diverticulitis can cause you to poop a lot of blood along with your stools. Usually, diverticulitis results in passing bloody stool with no pain. Doctors say that diverticulitis is one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding.12

Other symptoms of diverticulitis include:

As with most digestive issues, increasing your fiber and fluid intake can help to relieve the symptoms of diverticulitis naturally.

10. Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer can cause occult blood in stools that needs to be detected in a fecal blood test. According to PubMed Health, stool blood tests can detect internal bleeding that is the result of tumors in the colon. However, inflammation due to non-cancerous conditions is usually the main cause of gastrointestinal bleeding.13

The journal BMJ says that any changes to your bowel habits that include frequently passing loose stools, rectal bleeding after a bowel movement, or bleeding from your anus without pain should be reported to a doctor.14

Please refer to my article about 10 warning signs of colorectal (bowel) cancer you shouldn’t ignore, and also check these 11 steps to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Other Reasons for Pooping Blood

Let’s look briefly at some of the other reasons for blood in your poop.

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Angiodysplasia. This is a condition associated with enlarged blood vessels in the right or ascending colon. Angiodysplasia can cause blood in stools that range in color from bright red to maroon or black depending on where the bleeding occurs.2

Proctitis. Inflammation of the lining of your rectum commonly occurs with inflammatory bowel disease and can result in painful rectal bleeding. Proctitis can also cause passing mucus with bloody stools, diarrhea, and painful bowel movements.15

Ischemic colitis. A lack of blood flow to the intestines can cause ischemic colitis that can cause bloody diarrhea. This can be accompanied by abdominal pain, and in time can damage the lining of the intestine.16

How to Treat Blood in Stool

The main objective of treating blood in stool naturally is to stop the bleeding and prevent recurring cases of bleeding from the anus after a bowel movement.

Here are some natural ways to make passing stool easier and possibly avoid fresh bright red blood in your stool.

Increase dietary fiber and fluid intake

Increasing dietary fiber can help to relieve many of the digestive conditions that lead to rectal bleeding and pooping bloody stools. Fiber can help to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids, anal fissures, diverticulitis, and constipation. It is important to note that since fiber draws water into the stool to make it softer, it’s essential to consume enough water or other fluids on a regular basis to help the fiber work.

According to the PubMed Health, fiber can help to soften stool and make them easier to pass. This can help to ease digestive discomfort and prevent conditions like constipation that can lead to enlarged hemorrhoids. It was reported that increased fiber in the diet also reduces the frequency of rectal bleeding and bloody stools.17

Always increase fiber slowly to prevent uncomfortable side effects, such as gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

For more information on how to increase dietary fiber in your diet and alleviate many digestive conditions, please read my articles about the best foods to cleanse your colon and how to effectively cleanse your colon with only 2 ingredients.

Drinking cabbage juice for peptic ulcers

If you have ulcers or inflammation of the stomach lining that is causing internal bleeding and bloody stools, you should drink cabbage juice.

According to a study in the Western Journal of Medicine, cabbage juice reduced the length of time that peptic ulcers took to heal. Researchers concluded that drinking fresh cabbage juice can help to treat peptic ulcers in humans.

In my article on the amazing health benefits of cabbage juice, you can see how to use cabbage juice to boost your digestive health.

Warm bath

To get relief from anal itching, pain, and discomfort that often accompanies rectal bleeding, you can take a warm bath.

Dr. William Blahd on WebMD recommends warm baths to treat the symptoms of anal fissures. The heat from the water helps to increase circulation to the anal area and can treat bloody stools that are caused by fissures.18

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, you should see a doctor for any signs of blood in your stool. Although in the majority of cases the cause of pooping bloody stool is harmless, it is always better to get a professional diagnosis.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, if you have bleeding from your anus for more than one or two days, you should see a doctor. You should seek emergency medical help for blood in your stool in the following circumstances:19

  • You have severe abdominal pain and are pooping a lot of blood
  • There is mucus along with bloody stools
  • You are dizzy when you stand up
  • You have feelings of nausea and/or vomiting

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. MedicineNet. Rectal bleeding.
  2. MedicineNet. Blood in the stool.
  3. NCBI. Informed health online.
  4. Perm J. 2007 Fall; 11(4): 62–65.
  5. Aust Prescr. 2016 Feb; 39(1): 14–17.
  6. MayoClinic. Colon polyps.
  7. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 May 7; 18(17): 2009–2017.
  8. World J Gastrointest Endosc. 2009 Oct 15; 1(1): 3–6.
  9. MayoClinic. Gastritis.
  10. MayoClinic. Mucus in stool.
  11. WebMD. Anal fistula.
  12. Am Fam Physician.2009 Nov 1;80(9):977-983.
  13. NCBI. Colorectal cancer.
  14. BMJ. 2000 Oct 28; 321(7268): 1068–1070.
  15. MayoClinic. Proctitis.
  16. WebMD. Bleeding in the digestive tract.
  17. NCBI. Enlarged hemorrhoids.
  18. Calif Med. 1949 Jan; 70(1): 10–15.
  19. MayoClinic. Rectal bleeding.
  20. NHS. Anal Fistula.
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