Finding blood in stool
Finding Blood in Stool
One of the most alarming things that a person can experience when using the bathroom is the discovery of blood in their stool. People who have never experienced this before often panic when they see the red blood after having a bowel movement. Many times, it is not accompanied by any sort of pain, so it can be very puzzling too. However, the most common cause of blood in the stool is a relatively benign one: hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids and Blood in the Stool
When you notice blood in your stool, floating in the toilet bowl, on your toilet paper or on the toilet seat, note its overall color. Darker reds signify a source deeper within the gastrointestinal tract and might be a bigger cause for concern. More likely, though, the blood is bright red in color. Brighter red blood signifies a source closer to the end of the tract, and that usually means the anus or the rectum.
Hemorrhoids are, essentially, varicose veins that happen in and around the anus and the rectum. These sensitive veins, when experiencing increased pressure for various reasons, swell up. This increased swelling often results in hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external; the internal variety often goes unnoticed for quite some time, as they are generally not painful.
The biggest and most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids, in fact, is the appearance of bright red blood after a bowel movement. When a person undergoes a bowel movement, they usually have to strain and push a fair amount. This straining and pushing drastically increases the pressure in and around the anus and the rectum. If hemorrhoids are present, this increased pressure can basically chafe them or squeeze them. When this happens, a small amount of blood results.
Blood in Stool: Less than it Seems
Sometimes, it might seem that an awful lot of bright red blood is present following a bowel movement. Usually, though, it stops right away. People become mystified by how copious it can appear at times. However, that bright red that is so noticeable is usually not just blood. The blood actually mixes in with mucus that is usually produced a great deal when hemorrhoids are present. When the mucus and the bright red blood combine, it can give the appearance of a great deal of bleeding, where there is actually a very trace amount.
Therefore, when you initially notice what appears to be a great deal of bright red blood after having a bowel movement, relax. Check again in a few minutes by wiping your bottom once more. Chances are, the blood will have ceased or there will be much less of it. Most likely, it is the result of internal hemorrhoids and not a great cause for concern.
When to Call Your Doctor
Although blood in the stool usually signifies hemorrhoids, it may rarely signify something more serious. If you notice a sudden increase in blood, call your doctor. Also, if the blood is quite dark in color - sometimes even black and tarry - this might be the sign of something more serious, and a visit to your physician is probably in order. Any time you feel concern about blood in your stool, consult with a medical professional.