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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Blood in the Stools
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Blood in the Stools

Alternate Names : Rectal Bleeding, Hematochezia

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Blood in the stools means that blood from somewhere in the body is being excreted in the stool, or bowel movement.

What is going on in the body?

Blood in the stools can occur for many reasons. It can range from a small amount of blood, as in blood-streaked stools, to large amounts of blood, with bright red blood throughout the stool. Blood in the stools may come from anywhere in the body, but the source is usually the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

What are the causes and risks of the symptom?

Blood in the stools can be caused by many conditions. These include:

  • hemorrhoids, which are masses of small, dilated veins in or near the anus
  • peptic ulcer, which is an open sore or lesion in the lining of the stomach or small intestine
  • colorectal cancer
  • food poisoning
  • heavy metal poisoning, such as lead poisoning
  • esophageal varices, which are twisted, dilated veins that can cause pain and bleeding in the esophagus
  • colorectal polyps, which are tumors in the bowel that may be noncancerous or cancerous
  • Crohn's disease, which can cause inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract
  • diverticulitis, a condition that causes pockets in the intestine, which can become inflamed and infected
  • anal fissure, which is a tear in the lining of the anus
  • anorectal fistula, which is a crack in the lining of the anus that extends to the muscle of the anus
  • ulcerative colitis, a disease that can cause swelling and sores in the lining of the colon
  • bleeding disorders
  • abdominal injuries, such as crush injuries from a car accident or a fall
  • a foreign body in the colon or rectum
  • alcohol abuse
  • dysentery or other intestinal disorders, such as Meckel's diverticulum or intussusception
  • ulcerative proctitis, which is an inflammation of the rectum and anus
  • certain tests or procedures, such as a colonoscopy or polypectomy. During a colonoscopy, the healthcare provider uses a flexible tube with a camera on the end to view the lining of the large intestines. A polypectomy is the removal of a colorectal polyp, or growth, from the intestinal lining.


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    Blood in the Stools: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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