Conditions That Can Lead to Red Blood in Your Stool
Having bright red or dark blood in your stool is not typically a normal occurrence, often leading to anxiety about one’s overall health. However, passing a bloody stool (also called hematochezia) does not always imply that a serious health issue has developed. In fact, a number of conditions ranging from minor to more severe could result in having red blood in the stool. Our specialists at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates often assess this issue and can discern the reason for rectal bleeding or bloody stools among patients of all ages throughout the San Antonio, TX area.
What can blood in the stool mean for my health?
Fresh or red blood in the stool is a sign that bleeding has occurred somewhere in the digestive tract. Bleeding can happen in any area of the gastrointestinal system, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the anus. In some cases, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool in San Antonio, TX patients might be caused by minor internal problems that can be managed and treated quite simply. But because red or fresh blood in the stool might also be evidence of various types of serious digestive problems, it’s extremely important to consult with a GI specialist as soon as possible to discern its cause.
What causes bloody stool?
While it’s true that a bloody bowel movement may be a completely benign symptom, it can also point to a more significant health issue that requires professional care. Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding causes can include:
- Colon cancer
- Gastric cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Anal fissures
When should I see a San Antonio, TX physician for blood in the stool?
Any symptoms, like bloody stools, that occur more than once should be assessed by a gastroenterologist. Timely treatment needs to take place if heavy bleeding occurs or when symptoms (like loose stools, abdominal pain, lethargy, wooziness, or other concerns) also arise. The doctors at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates may perform specific tests to discover which areas along the digestive system are affected by the bleeding. Additionally, they can narrow down bloody stool causes and determine if any treatment is needed. Common tests used to identify the cause of red blood in the stool comprise:
- Stool analysis (fecal tests): These types of laboratory tests can identify the presence of hidden blood in the stool, which could be an indicator of cancer of the colon or other GI health problems.
- Upper endoscopy: Often called an upper GI, an upper endoscopy entails the placement of a flexible tube fitted with a tiny camera through the oral cavity and into the digestive tract. This diagnostic procedure can help identify if blood present in the stool could be originating from a condition associated with the throat, esophagus, or stomach, which make up the upper portion of the gastrointestinal system.
- Capsule endoscopy: With a capsule endoscopy, a wireless camera within a small capsule is swallowed, similar to an oral medication. The camera captures and transmits images of the various areas of the digestive system as it is carried along the upper GI tract and the small intestine.
- Colonoscopy: For a colonoscopy, a long, flexible scope outfitted with a special camera is used to provide a real-time view of the internal portion of the large intestine (colon). GI doctors use this endoscopic procedure to screen for conditions within the large intestine or rectum. Polyps can also be excised during a colonoscopy, which could also lessen the likelihood of developing colon cancer over time.
Advanced care for digestive health in San Antonio, TX
Gastrointestinal health is highly significant to your overall wellness. If you notice blood in your stool or rectal bleeding, it’s essential to visit a gastrointestinal doctor to diagnose the cause and help improve your health. Contact San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates today to book an appointment with a skilled gastroenterologist.