blood in stool

What Does Blood In Stool Indicate?

Blood in your stool is an alarming sight to see.

You may have bright red streaks of blood on your poop, or you could see blood mixed in with it. The stool could also look very dark, almost black, and tarry. There may also be blood in the toilet bowl.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 25th Feb 2022.

What Does Blood In Stool Indicate?

Blood in stool, whether discovered when wiping after a bowel movement or as a result of a test requested by your health care practitioner, may be alarming. While blood in the stool may indicate a severe issue, it is not always the case. Here’s what you need to know about the causes of bloody stools and what you should do if you find out you have a problem (with the help of your doctor).

Causes of Blood in Stool

Blood in the stool indicates that there is bleeding in the digestive system. Sometimes the quantity of blood is so tiny that only a faecal occult test may detect it (which checks for hidden blood in the stool). It may also appear as bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet after a bowel movement. Stool may look black and tarry if there is bleeding further up in the digestive system.

The following are some of the possible reasons for blood in the stool:

Diverticular disease. Small pouches that protrude from the colon wall are known as diverticula. Diverticula usually do not cause issues, although they may bleed or get infected.

Anal fissure. A tiny cut or tear in the mucosa lining the anus, comparable to chapped lips or a paper cut. Fissures are unpleasant and typically result after passing a big, firm stool.

Colitis. Colon inflammation is a condition in which the colon is inflamed. Infections and inflammatory bowel illness are two of the most frequent reasons.

Angiodysplasia. A bleeding disorder caused by frail, defective blood vessels.

Peptic ulcers. There is an open sore in the stomach or duodenum (the upper end of the small intestine) lining. Infection with Helicobacter pylori causes many peptic ulcers (H. pylori). Anti-inflammatory medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, may induce ulcers if used for long or in large dosages.

Polyps or cancer. Polyps are benign growths that may enlarge, bleed, and become cancerous if left untreated. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer. It often results in bleeding that is undetectable to the human eye.

Oesophagal problems. Severe blood loss may result from oesophagal varicose veins or oesophagal rips.

Blood in Stool Diagnosis

A doctor should evaluate any blood in the stool. Any information you can provide regarding the bleeding will aid your doctor in determining the source of the bleeding. A dark, tarry stool, for example, indicates an ulcer or other issue in the upper digestive system. Haemorrhoids or diverticulitis, as well as bright red blood or maroon-coloured faeces, generally signal a problem in the bottom portion of the digestive system.

The health care practitioner may request tests to identify the source of bleeding after taking a medical history and physical examination. The following tests may be performed:

Nasogastric lavage. A test that may determine if your doctor deals with bleeding from the upper or lower digestive tract. The technique entails emptying the stomach’s contents via a tube placed through the nose into the stomach. The bleeding may have ceased or is more probable in the lower digestive system if there is no sign of blood in the stomach.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). An endoscope, or flexible tube with a tiny camera on end, is inserted via the mouth, down the oesophagus, and into the stomach and duodenum. The doctor may use this to determine the cause of the bleeding. Endoscopy may also obtain tiny tissue samples for microscopic inspection (biopsy).

Colonoscopy. An EGD-like technique in which the scope is placed via the rectum to examine the colon. Colonoscopy, like an EGD, may be performed to obtain tissue samples for biopsy.

Enteroscopy. A technique for examining the small intestine comparable to EGD and colonoscopy. In some instances, this entails ingesting a capsule with a tiny camera that sends pictures to a video display as it travels through the digestive system.

Barium X-ray. A technique used barium as a contrast substance to make the digestive system visible on an X-ray. Alternatively, the barium may be ingested or injected into the rectum.

Radionuclide scanning. A technique involves injecting tiny quantities of radioactive material into a vein and then viewing pictures of blood flow in the digestive system using a specific camera to determine where bleeding is occurring.

Angiography. An X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan is enhanced by injecting a specific dye into a vein, making blood vessels visible. The technique identifies bleeding as dye seeps out of blood vessels at the bleeding location.

Laparotomy. The doctor opens and checks the abdomen during this surgical operation. If additional tests fail to identify the source of the bleeding, this procedure may be required.

When there is blood in the faeces, health care professionals will often request lab testing. These tests may be used to check for coagulation issues, anaemia, and H. pylori infection.

Associated Symptoms

It’s possible that people with bloody stool isn’t aware that they’re bleeding and hasn’t reported any symptoms. Depending on the origin, location, duration, and intensity of the bleeding, individuals may have stomach discomfort, vomiting, weakness, trouble breathing, diarrhoea, palpitations, fainting, and weight loss.

Blood in Stool Treatments

To halt acute bleeding, a clinician may utilise one of many methods. Endoscopy is often used to inject drugs into the bleeding site, treat the bleeding site with an electric current or laser, or seal the bleeding vessel with a band or clip. If endoscopy fails to stop the bleeding, the doctor may resort to angiography, injecting medication into the blood vessels.

Treatment includes treating the source of bleeding to prevent it from recurring, in addition to stopping the current bleeding if required. Antibiotics to treat H. pylori, medicines to control acid in the stomach, and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat colitis are some of the treatments that may be used. Polyps or sections of the colon damaged by cancer, diverticulitis, or inflammatory bowel disease may need surgery.

However, treatment may be as easy as doing things independently, depending on the reason. These include eating a high-fibre diet to alleviate constipation, which may cause and exacerbate haemorrhoids and anal fissures, as well as having a Sitz bath to ease fissures and haemorrhoids.

Based on the diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe medications or suggest treatment options.


  2. MedlinePlus: “Bloody or tarry stools."
  3. Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program: “Rectal Bleeding: What You Should Know."
  4. MedlinePlus: “Gastrointestinal fistula."
  5. NYU Langone Medical Center: “Angiodysplasia of the Colon."
  6. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: “Bleeding in the Digestive Tract."
  7. The Ohio State University Medical Center: “Peptic Ulcers."

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