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Blood on Stool: What Are the Possible Causes for This Condition?

Blood on Stool: What Are the Possible Causes for This Condition?

Finding blood on your stool can be a disconcerting experience. After all, any unexplained bleeding of any kind should be cause for concern right?

Well, not necessarily. Surprisingly, seeing blood in your stool does not always mean that you might have a serious health problem.

More often than not, blood in a person’s stool is usually non-life threatening. Still, it’s important to be aware of the possible causes, and to get in touch with your doctor if this happens to you.

What can cause blood on stool?

blood on stool

Blood in a person’s stool can be caused by a number of different things. Here are some of the possible reasons why you have blood on your stool:

Rectal bleeding

Rectal bleeding refers to a condition where a person is bleeding from their lower colon, or their rectum.

It usually appears as bright red blood in a person’s stool, but it can also be a darker hue.

Rectal bleeding can be caused by anal fissures, or tears or sores that develop when a person passes a particularly hard stool. Bleeding caused by anal fissures usually go away on their own, and are the most common cause of blood in a person’s stool.

It can also occur if a person strains while defecating, which causes hemorrhoids to bleed. This, in turn, shows up as blood on a person’s stool.

This symptom might be alarming, but generally it is safe, and not a cause for concern. However, if you experience persistent rectal bleeding, or if you frequently experience pain when defecating then it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.

Rectal bleeding can be treated easily, and doctors can prescribe you medication to help prevent it from happening again. In some cases, a change in diet might be recommended by your doctor if you frequently experience constipation.

Bacterial infection

Having bloody diarrhea can be a possible sign of a bacterial infection. It is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, or pain during defecation.

If a doctor suspects bacterial infection as the cause of blood on stool, tests are usually conducted in order to find out the possible cause. The easiest way would be to use a stool sample to check for presence of the bacteria, usually E. coli.

Once it has been confirmed that the bloody diarrhea is the result of a bacterial infection, then antibiotics can be used to treat the problem. It is also possible that the patient needs to be hospitalized in order to monitor their vital signs while they are being treated.

Other symptoms associated with a bacterial infection include the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal prolapse, or the rectum turning inside out
  • Fever

If you experience this combination of symptoms, it would be a good idea to go to your doctor immediately to get checked.

Gastrointestinal bleeding

In some cases, blood in a person’s stool could result from gastrointestinal bleeding. This means that there might be bleeding anywhere along a person’s gastrointestinal or GI tract.

It is also possible for a person with gastrointestinal bleeding to vomit blood along with diarrhea in their stool.

Other possible symptoms include the following:

  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing

GI bleeding can be caused by a number of things, such as a peptic ulcer, tears in the stomach lining, tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, and hemorrhoids.

Treatment varies depending on what is causing the bleeding, so the usual method of treatment would be to address the problem directly. This is why it would be a good idea to visit your doctor if you experience blood in your stool as well as the following symptoms above.

GI bleeding can be mild, and can sometimes go away on its own. However, it is also possible for GI bleeding to be a serious health risk, so it should never be ignored.

Colon cancer

Lastly, colon cancer is another possible cause of blood in a person’s stool. The blood comes from polyps or growths in the colon that are the result of cancer.

Aside from blood in the stool, people with colon cancer also experience the following symptoms:

  • Changes in the consistency of their stool
  • Weakness of fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Cramps, gassiness, or pain
  • Difficulty emptying your bowels

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it would be a good idea to get in touch with your doctor immediately. Colon cancer is treatable, but the prognosis is much better if doctors detect it in its early stages.

When should you be worried?

If you frequently have blood in your stool, then you should get in touch with a doctor immediately. This is because it might be the sign of a chronic or serious condition which requires immediate medical attention.

Additionally, if you experience symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, or weakness alongside blood in your stool, it would be a good idea to get it checked by a doctor. This could mean that you might have internal bleeding, and the loss of blood is causing you to experience these symptoms.

Any abdominal pain or pain in your rectum should also be a sign that you need to visit your doctor immediately.

Learn more about the possible causes of diarrhea, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Diarrhea – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/diarrhea-a-to-z#:~:text=Although%20most%20bouts%20of%20acute,or%20show%20symptoms%20of%20dehydration., Accessed September 07, 2020

Rectal Bleeding – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/decision_guide/rectal-bleeding, Accessed September 07, 2020

Bacterial Diarrhea – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551643/, Accessed September 07, 2020

Evaluating the Patient With Diarrhea: A Case-Based Approach, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538472/, Accessed September 07, 2020

E. coli Infection: Symptoms and Prevention | familydoctor.org, https://familydoctor.org/condition/e-coli-infection/#:~:text=coli%20is%20short%20for%20Escherichia,leading%20cause%20of%20bloody%20diarrhea., Accessed September 07, 2020

Acute Bloody Diarrhea: A Medical Emergency for Patients of All Ages, https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(09)00344-8/pdf, Accessed September 07, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Sep 09, 2020
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel