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
What are the treatments for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
There are many causes of rectal bleeding and the treatment is determined by the underlying diagnosis.
Can blood in the stool (rectal bleeding) be prevented?
Most diseases that cause rectal bleeding are likely preventable, but it is not often possible.
- Hemorrhoids can be avoided with proper diet and hydration to prevent constipation and straining to pass stool, but normal pregnancy increases the risk of hemorrhoid formation as does the patient with an acute diarrheal illness.
- Avoiding constipation also decreases the risk of diverticulosis, outpouchings in the lining of the colon, and the risk of a diverticular bleed but this may be a consequence of a Western diet.
- Alcohol abuse increases the risk of rectal bleeding in a variety of ways, from directly irritating the lining of the GI tract, to decreasing clotting capabilities of blood.
What is the prognosis of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
The prognosis depends upon the underlying diagnosis. Fortunately, the cause of rectal bleeding is often benign, due to hemorrhoids or an anal fissure.
It is important to never ignore blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. It may be a clue to a serious illness and the earlier a diagnosis can be made, the better the chance for a cure.
REFERENCE: Longo DL, eta al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. McGraw-Hill Professional. 18th edition. 2011.
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