Blood in the Stool (Rectal Bleeding) (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In this Article
- Definition of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)
- What symptoms are associated with rectal bleeding?
- What are some of the causes of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- Anal fissures
- Diverticulitis, IBD, AVM, ischemic colitis, cancer, intussusception
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Ulcers or gastritis
- Esophageal bleeding
- Other causes
- When should I call a doctor for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- How is the cause of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding) diagnosed?
- What are the treatments for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- Can blood in the stool (rectal bleeding) be prevented?
- What is the prognosis of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
Bleeding may originate in the esophagus from ulcers, varices (swollen veins) or a Mallory Weiss tear in its lining, usually from violent vomiting.
The blood in the stool can also be due to swallowed blood from a nosebleed, dental work, or other mouth injuries that cause bleeding.
When should I call a doctor for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
Any blood in the stool is not normal and should be reported to your health care professional. However, there are certain circumstances that might be considered an emergency and medical care should be accessed immediately. These situations include:
- Black, tarry stools may be due to bleeding from the esophagus, stomach or duodenum (upper gastrointestinal [GI] tract). This is especially a potentially serious concern in patients with liver disease and/or portal hypertension who have esophageal varices. This is a potential life threatening situation.
- Maroon color stool may be caused by an upper GI bleed or a bleeding source in the small intestine.
- Lightheadedness, weakness, fainting (syncope), chest pain or shortness of breath may be symptoms of significant blood loss.
- Bleeding that is associated with fever and abdominal pain.
Viewers share their comments
Get the latest treatment options.